The Matador Reviews
Unfortunately, I never felt that the movie was as funny as it wanted to be. The movie goes to great length to emphasize just how strange and eccentric Julian is, but he never actually did anything that made me believe that. At most he came off as a little quirky. The whole movie felt like that; a lot of talk, but it never delivered any rewarding moments. There are a few scenes that start out with a Coen-esque level of energy, but then fizzle out. The dialogue is not particularly witty, and the two main characters don't even have very interesting dialogue with one another. It all just lacks a certain level of exaggeration to make it work as well as it wants too.
The plot also lacks a lot of energy. There's no real conflict that moves the story along. The film just plods along from one day to the next and feels a little too slow. This slows down the comedic elements and the pace of the movie, and just makes the movie feel too loose and unrefined.
The acting, however, is great in the film. The small cast size makes these top-notch actors shine. Greg Kinnear does a good job of being this timid businessman, but Pierce Brosnan is absolutely front and center in his role. Every scene Pierce Brosnan is in you can tell he is giving it his all, and he is by far the most interesting thing in this film.
This was not a bad film, but it was certainly not as good as it could have been or as good as it wanted to be. The cast does a hard job of trying to bring a lot of life to characters that are otherwise disappointingly unoriginal, and they have some success. But, for a majority of the film I was left wishing that I was having more fun and that I was laughing more. The whole thing just felt too flat.
Julian Noble trots the globe, shooting, stabbing, and exploding those whom he's paid to terminate. He's not a likeable chap, this Julian. He likes his liquor strong and his girls young, if you know what I mean. After a job in Mexico City, Julian learns he may be on his way out of his amorphous organization; he then bumps into Danny Wright (Kinnear), a businessman who believes he's just made a successful pitch to a local company. Julian comes off as kind of a rude jerk who may or not be telling the truth, but once he convinces (truthfully) Danny that he (Julian) is indeed a paid assassin, the two sort of become pals.
It's a typical mismatched-buddies scenario - the loner and the married man, the odd duck and the straight arrow. Danny is married to Bean (Hope Davis), who becomes a little starstruck herself when she learns of Julian's occupation. But what of Julian's future? Will he soon be rubbed out by one of his own coworkers?
This seems like a role tailor made for Brosnan, kind of a down-on-his-luck James Bond, but for some reason the character is a nasty, tough-to-read creep. Is he sincere or a sociopath? Is he being funny or deadly serious? When he pulls the old messing-with-you trope once too often, you start to wonder what he's all about - and you get no real satisfactory answers.
The twist is okay, but in even a decent thriller it would have been terrific. Here it's just sort of there, as if the writers had realized they needed to tack on something a little off the beaten path and just kind of shoehorned it into the story. The Matador isn't incomprehensible, it's just maddeningly incoherent.