Last night, having been turned down by a friend to go see Superbad, I was flipping through cable stations and lit upon The Matador, a sleeper of a film I had caught on DVD a number of months ago but never wrote about. I settled in eagerly: this was a great, great movie. Pierce Brosnan turns in a manic, inspired performance as a boozy, oversexed, aging assassin, and Greg Kinnear is equally magnificent as his straight-man character foil.
This film bristles with the pathos and hilarity of manliness in decline: "are you serious?" asks a wide-eyed Danny, when confronted with Julian's profession. "As serious as an erection problem," deadpans Julian. The caricature of a macho asshole is here rendered human through self-effacing tragi-comedy.
The film has a clever storyline and a surprising hook, and the misdirection of the audience is well-executed. But what makes this movie so great are the performances. Brosnan and Kinnear have terrific screen chemistry as the unlikeliest of friends, and both put in fearless performances as men with a sense of humor about the fact that they are past their prime.
Pierce Brosnan is so much better as hit man Julian Noble than he was as superspy James Bond. This role offered him a chance to showcase his broad range, which includes a gleeful sense of comedic timing. Greg Kinnear of course shares Brosnan's talent for comedy, but he is an underrated actor in my book. He deserves a wide audience and many more accolades. His all-American good looks belie a thoughtful craftsman.
Have a look at it, you won't be disappointed.