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The Matador

4.2 4
Director: Richard Shepard, Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis

Cast: Richard Shepard, Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis


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A chance meeting between two middle-aged men leads one into a life of crime in this offbeat comedy. Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) is an American businessman whose life has been going through a sour patch after he and his wife, Carolyn (Hope Davis), lost their young son. During a business trip to Mexico City, Danny strikes up a conversation in a hotel bar with fellow out


A chance meeting between two middle-aged men leads one into a life of crime in this offbeat comedy. Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) is an American businessman whose life has been going through a sour patch after he and his wife, Carolyn (Hope Davis), lost their young son. During a business trip to Mexico City, Danny strikes up a conversation in a hotel bar with fellow out-of-towner Julian Noble (Pierce Brosnan), and while Julian's loud and brassy manner initially puts Danny off, in time the two become friends, and Julian feels comfortable enough with Danny to tell him what he does for a living. It seems Julian is a hired killer working under the auspices of underworld kingpins Lovell (Dylan Baker) and Mr. Randy (Philip Baker Hall), and Julian tries to persuade Danny to help him with his latest assignment. Danny refuses, but a few months later a distraught Julian appears unannounced on Danny's doorstep. It seems Julian has blown his two most recent assignments due to a variety of psychosomatic illnesses, and now Lovell and Mr. Randy want him dead. Julian has also done something to put Danny in his debt, and the previously non-criminal businessman is forced to help his friend stage a hit, with Julian's presence in his home upsetting the precarious balance of Danny and Carolyn's marriage.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
If this compact black comedy didn’t create the commercial stir it should have, lay the blame on Pierce Brosnan’s courage. The character he plays in The Matador is a far stretch from James Bond, the suave superspy his fans identify him with. Here Brosnan is Julian Noble, a world-weary, cynical hit man who follows each job with prolonged bouts of drinking and womanizing. While on assignment in Mexico City, he meets Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear), a glum businessman who hopes his prolonged bad-luck streak will end with the acquisition of a large new account. Removing a competitor would ensure that Danny gets the business, but he just can’t bring himself to hire Julian. Writer-director Richard Shepard manages to exploit every iota of comedic potential in his odd-couple scenario, focusing on the unlikely attraction between the irrepressible, uncontrollable Julian and the drab, responsible Danny. Brosnan is a revelation as the assassin; he portrays Noble as seemingly unrestrained yet, at bottom, emotionally repressed by the grim requirements of his chosen profession. Brosnan’s detailed performance brings considerable empathy to an outwardly repellent character. Kinnear adds similar dimension to Danny, a sad sack who ultimately emerges as a man of substance. Shepard gambles that his viewers will follow the rather convoluted sequence of events he proffers, particularly during the film’s ambiguous middle section. But he has good reason to withhold key bits of information, and attentive viewers will be satisfied by the ingenuity with which he wraps up a genuinely intriguing work; one that seems to telegraph its intentions early on yet ultimately confounds audience expectations by shrewd plot manipulation.
All Movie Guide
Richard Shepard's The Matador got a raw deal when it was released on DVD. In an apparent attempt to goose rentals by seducing the James Bond fans walking the aisles at Blockbuster, the Weinstein Company changed the movie's poster art from the sublime greens and oranges of the theatrical original to the dumbed-down, iconic images of an actioner: flames, voluptuous women, and guys in sunglasses with guns. By doing that, they probably alienated the true audience for this smart little indie that happens to involve a hitman -- which Pierce Brosnan undoubtedly considered a total departure from Bond. The Matador is the story of the unlikely relationship that develops between two men on two very different business trips to Mexico, and it plays out in three distinct settings, all more or less devoid of action. That, of course, is a good thing. The hitman losing his touch is an old cinematic device by now, but Brosnan and Shepard give it invigorating new life here. Brosnan's Julian Noble is an erratic delight -- fascinatingly, this is the most unsettling and the most funny the actor has ever been, both in the same movie. Greg Kinnear is more than equal to the task of navigating this enigma, with varying degrees of willingness, while also juggling his own share of personal and professional stumbling blocks. Hope Davis also shines as the film's only other major character, especially during a startling Christmas Eve visit by Julian, which leaves her uncertain whether to be charmed or chilled. The heart of Shepard's movie is a core of long, intimate conversations between the characters in which relationship politics are an uneasy constant, pregnant with danger. Yet true bonds emerge between them under circumstances that feel both exotic and commonplace. Here's hoping the action fans were unexpectedly nourished by it.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Weinstein Company

Special Features

Deleted scenes; Feature commentary with writer and director Richard Shepard; Commentary with Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear and Richard Shepard; Making The Matador featurette; The business & the treatment: feature radio programs discuss The Matador; TV commercial; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Pierce Brosnan Julian Noble
Greg Kinnear Danny Wright
Hope Davis Carolyn "Bean" Wright
Philip Baker Hall Mr. Randy
Adam Scott Phil Garrison
Dylan Baker Lovell
Roberto Sosa Actor

Technical Credits
Richard Shepard Director,Screenwriter
Susanne Bohnet Associate Producer
Stephen Break Co-producer
Pierce Brosnan Producer
Sig De Miguel Casting
Richard L. Fox Asst. Director
Sean Furst Producer
Bryan Furst Producer
Cathy Sandrich Gelfond Casting
Mark Gordon Executive Producer
Manfred Heid Co-producer
Carla Hool Casting
Brad Jenkel Co-producer
Rolfe Kent Score Composer
Gerd Koechlin Co-producer
Carole Kravetz-Aykanian Editor
Josef Lautenschlager Executive Producer
Amanda Mackey-Johnson Casting
Adam Merims Executive Producer
Rob Pearson Production Designer
Frankie Pine Musical Direction/Supervision
Andy Reimer Executive Producer
Martha del Rio Art Director
Marcelo Del Rio Art Director
Santiago Núñez Rojo Sound/Sound Designer
Amanda J. Scarano Associate Producer
Beau St. Clair Producer
David Tattersall Cinematographer
Andreas Thiesmeyer Executive Producer
Catherine Marie Thomas Costumes/Costume Designer
Wendy Weidman Casting
Bob Yari Executive Producer


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4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't get over how wonderful Pierce Brosnan was. He was fantastic. He can act and hopefully further robust roles are in his future.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really hated Pierce Brosnan in this movie, but his character is written that way for a reason and Brosnan delivers. This movie isn't the best this year, but it's a good way to pass an evening.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was not a huge 'Pierce Brosnan as James Bond' fan, but he really came through and impressed me with this role - you can tell he savored this character. He and Greg Kinnear are fantastic together and this is a great character study. The story keeps you entertained and guessing througout. I also liked the music and cinematography.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago