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Rated: R for strong sexual content, nudity, violence, and graphic language.
Genre: Drama Comedy Thriller
Directed By: Richard Shephard
Running Time: 1:37
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 3/07/07
Special Features:
Commentary by director/writer Richard Shepard
Commentary by Richard Shepard with actors Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear
11 deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary by Richard Shepard
"Making The Matador" featurette
Audio-only "The Business and the Treatment" radio program discussing The Matador
TV spot


I always say that I can usually tell if a movie is going to win me over based on the first five minutes alone. I mean any film doesn’t particularly need a shoot out, a mystery, or a hook to keep audiences watching. Sometimes, you just need a good set-up, and damn good dialogue. “The Matador” accomplishes the latter, period. Brosnan is in the park, has a heated exchange with a kid, and a car explodes. That’s a serious fucking hook. I mean Hope Davis, Greg Kinnear, and Pierce Brosnan are decent selling points alone, but “The Matador” is just really good. “The Matador” is based around the notion, that you can never quite understand what’s happening behind every turn. I was left wondering if what I was seeing was as I perceived it. Did Julian and Danny really meet by accident?

Is Julian really interested in Danny, or does he have something up his sleeve? I’m not giving anything away here, but I couldn’t help ask these questions, knowing full well of Julian’s character. Shephard’s film is dressed as neo-noir chic, which allows for certain scenarios to seem somewhat orchestrated for the sake of a pay-off, so audiences will find it difficult to take everything at face value. But most of the film is not strong only on questions, but on the charming performances.  

Pierce Brosnan’s role as an amoral gun for hire with a penchant for young women is truly entertaining, especially since Brosnan melts away any and all charm in exchange for a charismatic low life who can’t quite keep his pants zipped. Brosnan just completely disappears into this character, and manages to present a respectable sense of humor about himself that makes the film so memorable. Greg Kinnear as a man in a monotonous yet comfortable life really comes face to face with death, once he meets Julian, and he learns to open up more, even growing a mustache as a sense of homage to Julian. What occurs with “The Matador,” a funny and awfully entertaining dark comedy, is ultimately the picture of a killer who gains a conscience. Julian, aging, and tired of the doldrums of his career, finds he just can not kill people, and he no idea why. But we know what he can’t accept. Perhaps he’s gaining a conscience. There’s no real spectacle behind “The Matador,” except the rousing performances behind our trio, and the oddly compelling transformation of amoral sleaze to worthwhile human being.

I'm glad David Shephard's "The Matador" ended up living up to the hype that preceded it. With great performances, including a scene stealing show stopper from Brosnan, and tight direction, this is a great crises of conscience tale.



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