A mustached Pierce Brosnan walks through a hotel lobby wearing only a speedo, beer can in hand, gut hanging out, cigarette drooping out of the side of his smirk. The other guests stare, almost horrified, and obviously weï¿½ï¿½ï¿½re supposed to have the same reaction: that canï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t be (the former) James Bond playing washed-up hitman Julian Noble in The Matador. Julian is a complete 180 from James Bond: instead of style, he oozes sleaze; while Bond is a charmer, Julian is a bisexual predator, eyeing Catholic schoolgirls and raiding S&M clubs.
Cinephiles may remember a similar anti-Bond performance Brosnan gave in The Tailor of Panama as a disgraced British agent who stews up trouble in Panama just because heï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s bored and horny. But Julian is a far more complex and ultimately redeemable character that Brosnan plays with both gusto and finesse. Even though the setup is reminiscent of Gross Pointe Blank, The Matadorï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s focus on friendship, particularly male bonding, and Brosnanï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s surprisingly articulate performance make this film a whole other beast.
On his birthday, when heï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s alone and watching TV in a Mexico City hotel room, Julian realizes he has no friends. Scanning through his address book, he finds only brothels and gun shops. After indulging in an orgy, Julian meets businessman Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear), who is recovering from losing his job and his son. His current shaky business deal is essential to his survival, but he hides his lack of confidence in that suburban American appearances-are-everything way, which attracts Julian to him. Julian feeds off Dannyï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s normalcy ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ the first thing he wants to know is if Danny has a wife and kids. He wants a taste of that white-bread living that Danny sweats, and Danny indulges in Julianï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s more exciting world of hits and screwing whole Filipino whorehouses. Continue reading →