2021 Movie Draft: The Matador

2021 Movie Draft: Round 12, Pick

Featured on SLICEOFLIFE.COM

Genre: Crime/Film Noir

*Note: I want to take this opportunity to thank “hanspostcard” of SLICETHELIFE.COM for inviting me on this 2021 Movie Draft journey of rediscovering and sharing personal movie favorites in different genres. The community created by this website has been more than congenial and inspiring, and its passion for film has made me feel at home. I appreciate all the dialogue and recommendations, which I have added to my summer watchlist. May this year continue to be safer and more “normal” with each passing month. And may you all continue finding the three Es in movies: Entertainment, Empathy, and Escape!

I gotta end my 2021 Movie Draft journey with a carefully measured cocktail of dark comedy, pathos, film noir, and a splash of buddy love. No genre can really take hold of The Matador (2006), and that’s why it’s so refreshing.

I had no idea what to expect of this film when I saw it for the first time in the theatre. Marquee posters were vague, previews advertised a basic caper movie, and not one of the scenes did any of the actors or actresses justice. After seeing it, I found myself still chuckling under my breath yet sighing at the same time for some of its empathetic qualities.

The Matador follows our central character, Julian Noble, brilliantly played by Pierce Brosnan as if he’s James Bond in a drunken retirement phase. Julian is a veteran hired killer, or, in his words, a “facilitator of fatalities,” but his interest is waning and his concentration isn’t what it used to be. At his lowest of lows, he runs into Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) in a Mexico City hotel bar. Danny is in a morbid place himself: Having recently lost his young son in an accident, he’s hoping that his international business deal will trigger a reversal in fortune and spark some hope in his marriage.

Julian, hazed by the recent margarita, reacts inappropriately to Danny’s heartfelt story. So the next day, he tries to make amends by taking Danny to a bullfight and disclosing his unique profession. From this point on, we follow an unlikely friendship between Joe businessman and washed-up hit man.

The results are unexpectedly charming.

Here’s a film where eccentric acting and spontaneous dialogue make more progress than the plot itself. You will never see a Pierce Brosnan like this no matter how accustomed you are to the James Bond flicks. Where he works best is during his character’s vulnerable spots. This is not the cliché, tough guy who will “hit” on his best friend’s wife. Instead, we sympathize for him because, well, he is a homeless criminal with no family, and his whiskery smile is too darn endearing to pass up.

The Matador also includes some very touching scenes between Danny and his wife, played by Hope Davis. It’s obvious these two are a match made in heaven, and maybe it’s just a hindrance that one of them happens to be a friend to a hired killer.

As per usual, thank you for reading and let me know if you’ve seen this one!

Best,

Reely Bernie

13 thoughts on “2021 Movie Draft: The Matador

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    1. How cool! Believe it or not, I met Hope Davis at the Blockbuster Video I was working at a year before she starred in this movie. She was in Denver for a family visit and said that even though her upcoming movie was set in Denver, it was all Hollywood studio. Yes, one of Brosnan’s best, and I enjoyed Director Shepard’s doc on Cazale. So cool you did a Q and A with him!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha! Nah, just a geeky quasi-celebrity encounter that just so happened to involve this same beloved indie film we both like 🙂 I miss those Blockbuster days though. They were also accompanied by more sincere film criticism in Roger Ebert, and I always looked forward to the annual Siskel & Ebert Top Ten. Did the UK have many Blockbusters during the late 90s and early 2000s?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Many. Took over a supermarket near my flat, but there were smaller ones on most main streets. Quite expensive if you didn’t have an offer in. Best was when they sold off old VHS, used to come out with arms full! And of course, they’re all junk now. Video shops were very clean and orderly in the UK, had to go to the US for the really funky ones. There were some great ones in NYC! Blockbuster were not great for specialist films, but hardly anyone was. But Blockbuster essentially chased down the indies and became the main show in every town.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Yeah, I had to go to the local indie, “Video Plus,” for the smaller titles, but while working at Blockbuster in my early twenties, I had the power to order whatever I wanted to place in the middle vein of the New Release wall. The store, the community, the tangible plastic, and the late fees are an experience we just won’t ever have anymore. At least there are still theatres. I’m finally heading back. I hope things are safer where you’re at 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

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