The Matador

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

It’s always satisfying to see an actor really transcend a stereotype and really put on a great show. Pierce Brosnan does that with remarkable ease in “The Matador”, a quirky tongue-in-cheek comedy that nearly makes us forget that Mr. Brosnan was once Mr. Bond. Brosnan playes Julian Noble, an over the hill hit man who still manages to get the job done, but he’s having a mid-life crisis and it’s starting to affect his work. Julian is no ordinary hit man, he takes out high-powered executives in the corporate world for whatever reason, but if the money’s right should it matter if the people are really bad or not? Julian is a womanizer, a borderline alcoholic and most of all…tired. It’s this routing that’s finally gotten the most of Julian and when he misses a fatal shot, he’s got one chance at redemption else he’s the one who’ll get the axe (for good). By sheer coincidence, Julian bumps into Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear), a Denver-based salesman also down on his luck. The two hit it off and form an unlikely friendship and we don’t realize how much of an influence Julian was until we meet them both six months later…

Julian finds redemption in Danny, representing everything he wants but can’t ever have (a normal home, a loving wife, etc.) but as Julian is trying to escape the people after him, he finds solace in the home of Danny and his wife (Hope Davis). Naturally I won’t give away the entire movie, but let’s just say that Brosnan was snubbed of an Oscar nomination for his work here. Director and writer Richard Shepard has assembled a good, solid cast and they seem to work well together. The chemistry between Brosnan and Kinnear really makes the film work and the yin to one another’s yang is no more present than in one of the final scenes. While “The Matador” may be more remembered for the individual performances, it’s the sheer quirkiness of the entire thing that makes the movie work on so many levels. Sex? Got it. Drinking? Got it and then some. Violence? Um, hmm. While graphic in some parts, the overall blend of humor and violence makes this work. Highly recommended.

Video: How does it look?

“The Matador” is filmed in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio and the image is shown in a fairly-satisfying anamorphic transfer. The movie has a lot of warm hues, browns and reds, that really look great but they also have the capacity to show a lot of errors. The reds seem a bit muddled from time to time and there’s a bit of edge enhancement in some of the outdoor scenes. I also noticed a bit of grain on the print, something which I didn’t expect from a new movie. On the whole, it’s certainly not bad or unwatchable but for a day and date title, I was expecting a bit more.

Audio: How does it sound?

Audio-wise, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is fairly active, but anyone expecting this movie to blow the roof off the place is sorely mistaken. There are a few sequences in which all five channels are activated, but for the most part it’s a good surround mix. Speaking of surrounds, they do come into play during one of the final scenes – plenty of gunfire to go around but that’s about it. Like the video, it’s a good mix but I wasn’t expecting as much from the sound as I was the picture.

Supplements: What are the extras?

“The Matador” actually sports a good variety of supplements, including two commentary tracks. The first is with writer/director Richard Shepard and he repeats most of his statements in the second commentary when he’s accompanied by Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan. This is one great track! The three have a good time and love watching the movie themselves; again it’s clear to see the chemistry between Kinnear and Brosnan. There are 11 deleted scenes that don’t add a lot and the obligatory “Making of ‘The Matador’” featurette. An interesting feature is the audio-only “The Business and The Treatment” radio program that talks about the movie. Audio-only supplements are few and far between on DVD, but it’s a nice touch. The trailer is also included. “The Matador” blends just the right mix of humor, drama and comedy and the end result is a very satisfying watch. Recommended.

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