The Matador

Amusing if minor comedy about a sleazy hitman (Pierce Brosnan) who's losing his touch, and the naive yuppie (Greg Kinnear) he befriends in Mexico City and lures into his cockeyed world.

A story sort of emerges where each man, at some point in time, needs the other's help to get through a sticky situation, but really this movie is enjoyable mainly as a vehicle for Brosnan's often-ignored comic talents. Although any number of actors could have portrayed the whacked-out but oddly lovable Julian Noble, the brilliant casting of Brosnan (who also has a producer's credit) makes us imagine Julian as what James Bond might be like after one too many assignments: friendless, homeless, his mind and body going to waste, his assassinations shoddy, and his sexual escapades ridiculous.

Brosnan – who as the star of the TV show Remington Steele first became famous as a parody of the Bond character he'd later portray – seems thoroughly aware of his irony-soaked career, and he plays it to the hilt: a movie star with nothing left to lose. The dependable if unremarkable Kinnear is decent as the most ordinary guy you'll ever meet. And writer/director Shepard, who finally gets his first major theatrical release after over fifteen years of toiling in the trenches, comes up with plenty of funny lines and some cute little twists at the end.

But despite the colorful Mexican backdrop (apparently the entire film was shot in Mexico City, including scenes set in Manila, Denver, and Budapest!), there seems something strangely small and anti-climactic about The Matador. Perhaps it's due to Shepard's straight-to-video background that this film feels like a B-movie. Not that this is bad; I like B-movies sometimes. But it makes for an essentially disposable filmgoing experience. The Matador may be the classic example of the "wait for it on cable" kind of movie. But Pierce Brosnan sure is entertaining.