The Matador (2006)
Round 12, Pick 1
Genre: Crime/Film Noir
*Note: I want to take this opportunity to thank “hanspostcard” of SLICETHELIFE.COM for inviting me on this 2021 Movie Draft journey of rediscovering and sharing personal movie favorites in different genres. I can’t believe it’s already over! The community created by this website has been more than congenial and inspiring, and its passion for film has made me feel at home. I appreciate all the dialogue and recommendations, which I have added to my summer watchlist. May this year continue to be safer and more “normal” with each passing month. And may you all continue finding the three Es in movies: Entertainment, Empathy, and Escape!
I gotta end my 2021 Movie Draft journey with a carefully measured cocktail of dark comedy, pathos, film noir, and a splash of buddy love. No genre can really take hold of The Matador (2006), and that’s why it’s so refreshing.
I had no idea what to expect of this film when I saw it for the first time in the theatre. Marquee posters were vague, previews advertised a basic caper movie, and not one of the scenes did any of the actors or actresses justice. After seeing it, I found myself still chuckling under my breath yet sighing at the same time for some of its empathetic qualities.
The Matador follows our central character, Julian Noble, brilliantly played by Pierce Brosnan as if he’s James Bond in a drunken retirement phase. Julian is a veteran hired killer, or, in his words, a “facilitator of fatalities,” but his interest is waning and his concentration isn’t what it used to be. At his lowest of lows, he runs into Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) in a Mexico City hotel bar. Danny is in a morbid place himself: Having recently lost his young son in an accident, he’s hoping that his international business deal will trigger a reversal in fortune and spark some hope in his marriage.
Julian, hazed by the recent margarita, reacts inappropriately to Danny’s heartfelt story. So the next day, he tries to make amends by taking Danny to a bullfight and disclosing his unique profession. From this point on, we follow an unlikely friendship between Joe businessman and washed-up hit man.
The results are unexpectedly charming!
Here’s a film where eccentric acting and spontaneous dialogue make more progress than the plot itself. You will never see a Pierce Brosnan like this no matter how accustomed you are to the James Bond flicks. Where he works best is during his character’s vulnerable spots. This is not the cliché, tough guy who will “hit” on his best friend’s wife. Instead, we sympathize for him because, well, he is a homeless criminal with no family, and his whiskery smile is too darn endearing to pass up.
The Matador also includes some very touching scenes between Danny and his wife, played by Hope Davis. It’s obvious these two are a match made in heaven, and maybe it’s just a hindrance that one of them happens to be a friend to a hired killer.
As per usual, thank you for reading and let me know if you’ve seen this one!
Best, Reely Bernie