Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Matador

On the surface The Matador is the story of a hitman, and an unwilling accomplice.

But in reality the movie is about the nature of friendship, love, loyalty, and the lengths we go to protect, and honor our relationships.

With such a positive theme it's not surprising that although the film received very little publicity and support from the studio, it was able to generate good word of mouth, and even some Oscar buzz.

The film features an outstanding out- of-character performance from Pierce Brosnan who plays a hitman who suffers from guilt, panic attacks, and anxiety. It's an enjoyably comic performance that really showcases his talents. One minute he's a confident, inconsiderate, jerk, the next a crying, vulnerable, and scared wimp.

What really works for the film is the familiar comic situations the film evokes.

What's unique, and humorous is that Writer/Director Richard Shepard uses such extreme examples to illustrate those familiar situations.

When Pierce Brosnan's hitman character Julian Noble makes a late night visit to Greg Kinnear's nice- guy-next-door character Danny Wright, the audience recognizes the friend-in-need situation.

But what makes it comedic is that Julian Noble is a cold blooded killer, and the man he's asking for help is basically a stranger. Instead of ignoring him like any normal person, Danny is kind, sympathetic and feels obligated to help his fellow man.

As if they were life long friends.

In a way the film shares a kindred spirit with the excellent Kiss, Kiss, Bang Bang. Although not as witty, sharp ....or even as good, The Matador does parody buddy films....although not the same genre that Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang does.

The Matador
is a parody of comedic films about loyalty and friendship.

It also shares a twisted sense of humor. Some of the conversations, and discussions that take place in the film are priceless. Again the audience relates to the characters because we recognize the situations, except in this film the cases are extreme. When Julian Noble asks Danny to help him assassinate a mark. Danny responds with the same reaction we'd give our neighbor if they asked us to help them paint their house.

The movie is not perfect however, although the movie is a brisk 97 minutes, the film drags in spots. It's also repetitive, and the so-called mystery in the film is not really that hard to figure out.

Where the movie excels is in it's performances. Besides the excellent Brosnan, Greg Kinnear really nails the good guy role. He has the innocence, and good natured charm that really offsets the rough Brosnan. Hope Davis also turns in a memorable, quirky, and grounded performance that really adds to the film.

Although far from fantastic, the movie is a solid, enjoyable, and unexpected comedy that will be sure to keep you smiling while occasionally laughing throughout.

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