The Matador Richard Shepard

In spite of a remarkable lead performance by Pierce Brosnan and some breathtaking cinematography, The Matador just misses the mark of being a great film. Brosnan plays assassin Julian Noble, a lonely, middle-aged guy going through a mid-life crisis when he meets a young, independent businessman named Danny Wright, played by Greg Kinnear. The two happen to be in Mexico City when their very different worlds collide, forging an unusual, comical bond that plays out in an unpredictable manner. Essentially, Noble goes mad and can no longer kill people. Whether it’s from frazzled nerves or a sudden case of conscience, the womanising boozer is never the same after spending one last night in Mexico with Wright. Brosnan is an excellent choice to play the beleaguered Noble, who goes from sleazy cool killer to anti-James Bond. Kinnear has held his own against Nicholson and De Niro in other films, and is tailor made to play Danny as a straight guy with a hidden compulsion for risk taking. Hope Davis continues to play curious, likable muses and her dippy, compassionate Bean Wright is endearing. For his first major film, director Richard Shepard does a wonderful job and, as he mentions in his solo commentary, is blessed to work with cinematographer David Tattersall, who masterfully infuses every scene with brilliant colour and emotional vibrancy. Shepard goes on to state that all of the elements of the film that he envisioned — from cast to crew — came together fatefully Indeed, in their occasionally illuminating group commentary, Shepard, Brosnan and Kinnear expound upon how The Matador’s smooth production was the result of divine timing — the perfect project at the perfect time in their respective careers. Brosnan, in particular, finds the pathetic Noble to be the right character to transition out of James Bond while simultaneously showing off his range as a comic actor. Unfortunately, the film is a tad too light for a story about killers and while the characters do develop, it’s never quite clear why they behave one way or another. The Matador is a fun, stylish film with clever performances but its storyline doesn’t quite deliver the goods. Plus: Deleted scenes; "Making the Matador”; trailer. (Alliance Atlantis)