Director: Richard Shepard
Purchased by the Weinstein Company hot off its launch at the Sundance Film Festival, NYU film school trained writer/director Richard Shepard (who failed to graduate due to a science requirement) does an ingenious job of reinventing a cinematic icon and breathing life into a stale genre. In The Matador, we see the legendary James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) as wild, amoral, and perverse hit man Julian Noble, who after taking lives for twenty-two years has become lonely and tired of his fast lifestyle which has caused him to have a mini psychological breakdown. Enter Danny (Greg Kinnear), a struggling salesman who, suffering from both a financial crisis and overcoming an intense personal tragedy of his own, meets up unexpectedly and befriends Julian while both are on business trips in Mexico, resulting in a unique bonding event at a bullfight which earns the film its name. After failing to complete a major hit when his past begins to haunt him, Julian is informed by his loyal handler Philip Baker Hall that his life is on the line from others in the business including Dylan Baker. Six months after their bizarre introduction, Julian shows up at Danny’s place in Colorado in the middle of the night asking help from the only two and admittedly unlikely friends he has in the world--Danny and his wife (Hope Davis), who, although she hadn’t yet met Noble is fascinated by his life and experiences. Brosnan, who was also a producer of the film is wonderful as the anti-Bond and while his kinks and ugly attributes may turn off some viewers, the film is still highly entertaining and Kinnear provides good support by playing the polar opposite, bland everyday Joe in the midst of the criminal goings-on. This entertaining film makes a great diversion from the norm for the over-crowded hit man/crime comedy genre but for an even wilder and funnier ride with more of a pop culture sensibility, check out Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang.