'The Matador' - Movie Review

Pierce Brosnan plays Julian Noble, an aging hitman. When he encounters businessman Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) in a hotel bar in Mexico, they get a rocky start on a weird friendship. Julian has no home and no friends and isn't particularly good at socializing, although he does try - desperately. Danny on the other hand is a down-on-his-luck salesman trying to recover his financial stability with a deal in Mexico. Julian - despite his penchant for prostitutes - envies Danny his solid marriage and home life. They go to a bull fight together, where Julian reveals his profession - and when Danny doesn't believe him, demonstrates how easily he could kill a random individual of Danny's choosing without anyone noticing.

I remember seeing an interview with Brosnan at the time, in which he said that the role had scared him. It was the first time he hadn't played suave and handsome (he was well known as Remington Steele and James Bond, and for movies like "The Thomas Crown Affair"), and required that he deliberately NOT look good and also put a lot more into the acting. I've always thought of this movie as proof that he really knows how to act - he does a great job.

I saw this shortly after its release and really enjoyed it, then watched it again in 2017 with a friend who commented that it had "more awkwardness per square inch" than any movie she'd ever seen. And its true: Julian doesn't know how to interact with people and some of the things he says are fantastically cringe-inducing. But it's not just about being a dark comedy with awkward humour - there's a real and quite good plot sneaking up on you as you watch these two wildly different individuals try to form a friendship. Better yet, you'll have no damn idea where it's going in the process. Memorable and surprisingly good, I remain a big fan of the movie.