Anthony's Film Review
The Matador (2005)
Surprise performance by Pierce Brosnan in a touching film about friendship...
The Matador is a drama with some elements of thriller and comedy. I state that it's a drama because the stuff about a hitman killing people is there, but the thriller is not the focus. Neither are the occasional moments of humor. The movie is really a drama with a story about an unusual friendship.
In the center is Julian Noble. He has spent most of his adult life as a hitman, going from place to place around the world to do what he is asked. He drinks when he has the chance and satisfies his sexual desires with anyone of any age and gender. At the same time, he has been in the game too long. He's at the point where he discovers what is missing: companionship. Despite having a list of hookers and other people in his personal phone book, none of them want to talk to him.
Besides the character's multiple dimensions, I was also amazed by the fact that Julian Noble is played by Pierce Brosnan, the actor who's now done with playing James Bond, the suave and sophisticated fictional spy the world knows so well. What many people are saying is true. Pierce Brosnan plays a character who is the opposite of James Bond and does an amazing job. He doesn't sink into the character so deeply that he's totally unrecognizable, but he sinks into it enough. Although you can still recognize his familiar face behind the mustache in this movie, what makes him successfully move onto different movie roles is his ability to play any kind of character.
The story involves a chance meeting of two people from different worlds. Besides Brosnan as Julian Noble, there is Greg Kinnear as Danny Wright, a businessman who goes to Mexico City to negotiate a business deal. Their meeting in a bar is like any encounter between two strangers. What keeps them talking, however, is Julian's attempt to form a friendship he's never had before. It leads to another male bonding moment at a bullfight. This is where Danny finally learns what Julian's line of work is. This is also the last moment where one thinks of Pierce Brosnan and James Bond. When Danny guesses that Julian might be a government spy, Julian denies it.
As the story moves along in Mexico City and in the United States six months later, the two men become friends despite the contrasting occupations. Their relationship involves both envy and sympathy. Julian appreciates Danny's luck in having a wife (played by Hope Davis) to live with, and Danny cares enough to let Julian stay in his house. It doesn't matter that Julian is a hitman. He is still a human being with feelings and emotions, even though he has buried them for so long. I thought it was amusing that Danny grows a mustache similar to Julian's for the later scenes in the movie. It's as if Danny is beginning to step into Julian's shoes, just as it is happening the other way around.
Overall, I like The Matador for its originality. It's one of those movies where you are told the basic plot, and your prediction of the movie is way off from what really happens. I also give points for a script that really explores who these characters are and how they interact with each other. Greg Kinnear and Hope Davis play their supporting roles well. As for Pierce Brosnan's performance, he definitely deserved at least a Golden Globe nomination. I was amazed to see him be someone other than Agent 007. If Brosnan had desire to leave that role behind, he got his wish with this movie.
For more information about The Matador, visit the Internet Movie Database.