The Matador (2005)
USA / English
"A hitman and a salesman walk into a bar...
"A globetrotting hitman and a crestfallen businessman meet in a hotel bar in Mexico City in an encounter that draws them together in a way neither expected.
Surprise performance by Pierce Brosnan in a touching film about friendship...
The Matador is a drama with some elements of thriller and comedy. I
stress that it's a drama because the stuff about a hit-man killing
people is there, but not the focus. Neither are the occasional moments
of humor. The movie is 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 hit-man, 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
Besides the character's multiple dimensions, I was also amazed by the
fact that Julian Noble was played by Pierce Brosnan, the actor who's
now done with playing 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 it
well. He doesn't sink into the character so deeply that he's totally
unrecognizable, but sinks into it enough. You can still recognize his
familiar face behind the mustache in this movie, but what makes him
successfully move onto different movie roles is his ability to play any
kind of character.
The story involves a meeting of two people from different worlds.
Julian Noble is the hit-man whose latest job takes him to Mexico City.
Greg Kinnear is Danny Wright, a businessman who goes to Mexico City to
negotiate a business deal. Their meeting in a bar is like any typical
chance 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 official or spy, Julian
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 to live with. As for Julian,
the loner, Danny cares enough to let him stay in his house. It doesn't
matter that Julian is a hit-man. He is still a human being with
feelings and emotions, even though he's 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 liked 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, who played
Danny's wife, 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.
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