Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear and Hope Davis are all very good here.
This film seems somewhat confused.
When this movie came out in theaters, I stayed away from it because it seemed like a calculated attempt to show us a different side of Pierce Brosnan. Bulk him up a bit, have him act zany and ta da... we have The Matador. When I was given it to review on DVD, I can't say that my initial reaction was 100% different, but it seemed to play well as movie that someone might rent should they have missed it in the theater.
The story gives us Julian Noble (Brosnan) as a hit man who is having a mid-life crisis. He runs into Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear), a working stiff, who is coping with the loss of his son with his wife Bean (Hope Davis). After a rocky start these two form a bond and Brosnan soon comes to need Kinnear to get him out of some trouble he's in. While the story is pretty simple, if rather implausible, ultimately The Matador seems like a film that was developed so much in preproduction, that all of it's weight was lifted by the time it was made.
These tracks come with a commentary by director Richard Shepard who essentially explains why the 11 scenes in this section were cut. They have titles like "Mr. Stick is Upset" and "Julian Turns on Danny," and having watched the movie and then viewed these scenes right after that, I think Shepard made the right choice. These scenes were good but they would have turned The Matador from a 97 minute film into a 127 minute film. While it is good, it certainly doesn't need to be that long.
Two commentaries come on this DVD. They feature one with the director and then another one with Greg Kinnear, Pierce Brosnan and the director. I decided to listen to the one with all three people, simply because I wanted to get a feel for how these actors felt about this project. Not surprisingly, it was something that they were highly passionate about doing. They talk about how they got involved in the movie, Brosnan's sex scenes in the film and just generally have a good time discussing this movie as it plays before them.
Making The Matador
If you don't have a lot of time, I recommend watching this featurette simply because it will offer you a more succinct look at the film from the creator's perspective. While the actors have nothing but good things to say about one another, cast and crew also chime in and one gets the general idea of how the nuts and bolts of this production came into being. For those with a little more time on their hands, I suggest checking out the commentary tracks instead.
The Business and The Treatment
These are radio interviews that director Richard Shepard did with NPR's The Business and KCRW's The Treatment with Elvis Mitchell. Shepard talks about making the film, working with the actors and what it's like for a filmmaker to be experiencing everything that he's experiencing due to the film that he created. While not too much different than the audio commentary tracks (or the featurettes for that matter), these are certainly worth a listen should you be a huge fan of this film.
Widescreen Version presented in a "matted" widescreen format preserving the aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. The look of this film moves in and out of the classically stylized and into the more ethereal when the characters are having dream sequences or pondering their lives. There is a lot of orange used to bring these scenes across and I give the director a lot of credit for not beating the viewer over the head with excessive imagery.
Dolby Digital. English 5.1. Subtitled in English and Spanish. The music in this movie really plays a part in trying to get the humor across. A very serious situation is often upended by music that someone can dance to. While the effect of this does and doesn't work, it is an interesting choice as it puts this film within the genre of black comedy. Overall, this movie works even if it does feel a little off.
Brosnan stands on this front cover ready to shoot a gun while Greg Kinnear stands behind him. Behind the both of them is a silhouette of a naked lady with flames rising all around them. The back cover offers up some images from the film, a well written description, a Special Features listing, cast list and technical specs. Simple packaging that pushes it's stars properly.
Greg Kinnear is a very good actor and I am surprised that we don't see him in more movies. Perhaps this is calculated on his part, considering his career didn't catch fire like one thought it might when he did As Good as It Gets. Still, I looked at his resume on IMDB and was pleased to see that he does have a healthy slate of films in the pipeline. He and Brosnan play very well off one another, but I had the sneaking suspicion that these two actors were trying to be "indy-film funny" as opposed to just funny. For some reason, independent films have become a medium for what I call "Sherlock Holmes" humor. If you find it, great, but you don't... watch out.
At the very least, The Matador is worth a look.
The Matador was released May 12, 2005.