Facilitator of Fatalities
Split into parts "The Matador" is basically a hitman movie tied together with an unlikely buddy movie, mixing dark humour with emotion. And this mix of stories, humour and emotion works to create a darkly amusing but also surprisingly emotional movie which walks the line between being mainstream and quirky. But the real big reason why "The Matador" works is down to the casting, partly because of Greg Kinnear but mainly because of Pierce Brosnan who delivers a performance which puts a big wedge between him and his most famous role as James Bond.
Julian Noble (Pierce Brosnan - After the Sunset) is a facilitator of fatalities or to you and me a Hitman who happens to be in Mexico for a job. It is whilst in the hotel bar he meets businessman Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear - Stuck on You) who whilst finding Julian rude and insensitive ends up agreeing to go to a bullfight with him. It is at the bullfight that Julian comes clean and tells the disbelieving Danny what he does, even walking him through a theoretical hit. A year later having parted company, Julian shows up at Danny's door in Denver in a mess, he's had a nervous break down and messed up some jobs to the point that his bosses want him dead and has one final chance of a reprieve but only if Danny will help.
To be honest whilst "The Matador" is fun it takes a little while to get into, the disjointed feel of the opening makes it hard going. And at the same time we are made aware that Julian is close to crumbling as we witness panic attacks and strange nightmares such as swimming with sharks. It almost feels like it is trying too hard to be quirky with Julian being an extreme character of quirky disposition.
But it is worth getting through this awkward opening because once we get to Julian meeting Danny the movie really kicks off especially when we get to the bullfight and Danny being disbelieving of what Julian tells him. It is darkly funny and also exciting as Julian steps him through a theoretical hit which will have you on the edge of your seat whilst also laughing. And that is very much the style of what is to follow as Julian and Danny become strange friends.
Now "The Matador" is a movie which whilst mixing up the two cliches of a hitman with unlikely buddies it also mixes up the style. One minute it is darkly funny the next it is a little emotional which adds to the strange quirkiness of the movie. And this is where I also have an issue because whilst the emotion of Danny and Julian being odd friends works as does Julian's problem of being burned out the whole story of Danny and his wife still trying to move on from the death of their son fails. It is an element too far which tries to deliver some emotion but never fully works.
What certainly does work are the performances and Greg Kinnear is reliable and amusing as Danny especially during the scene where he experiences the theoretical hit. But it is Pierce Brosnan who grabs your attention because he lets loose with Julian being a seriously oddball character who in one of the first scenes we encounter paints his toe nails. It's great to watch Brosnan play a character which really is all over the place being strong and dangerous one minute, fragile and broken the next making us never entirely sure of him. Trust me if you always think of Brosnan as Bond then watch him as Julian and you will never see him as Bond in the same light.
What this all boils down to is that "The Matador" is an entertaining movie which whilst mainstream is a little quirkier than your norm. But it is the performance of Pierce Brosnan which makes the movie and you certainly won't forget Brosnan's facilitator of fatalities in a hurry.