By Ryan Parsons | Images property of The Weinstein Company
I have been anxious to catch the Richard Shepard film The Matador before Christmas; long before The Weinstein Company began pushing the release date.
Unfortunately, I had to wait till the end of January to finally see the film and have to admit that it turned out a bit different then I had expected.
Instead of a film about a cool contract killer that is as dirty as Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa, we have a story about the birth of friendship in the most unlikely of places between the most different of people.
Queue up the joke please-- A hitman and a salesman walk into a bar...
The Matador Movie Review
The Matador, directed and written by Richard Shepard, tells the story of two men in a 'what if they never met' situation. Julian Noble (Pierce Brosnan) is a contract killer who is beginning to feel the effects of a mental breakdown while Danny (Greg Kinnear) is a husband suffering from not only the loss of his kid and the loss of his job.
The synopsis for The Matador calls Danny a 'salesman', though he is more of a down-on-his-luck guy looking to find solid work for himself in order to feel like a man again.
In a brief chain of events Danny and Julian happen to meet after a couple of drinks at their hotel's bar. Now, this is where the film begins to show its true formula. The conversation between Danny and Julian is awkward at best and even moviegoers will feel a bit uncomfortable by how the two men try to relate.
It is quickly established that Julian and Danny are guys from two opposite sides of the spectrum but they also have enough curiosity in one another to establish a friendship; a rocky one at that. Danny is curious in Julian's wild lifestyle as a hitman while Julian subconsciously craves a life more similar to Danny's.
A life that is settled down with a wife waiting at home.
After their first acquaintance the rest of The Matador concentrates on the development and conclusion of the friendship between the two men.
This fact alone is why you will either dig The Matador or simply leave the film with a neutral attitude toward it.
Richard Shepard did not create The Matador to be some quirky film similar to The Whole Nine Yards. Instead, the story behind the film seems very real; almost as if this type of relationship could happen.
Since the film sticks closely to reality when it comes to the relationship between Danny and Julian, most of the scenes that feature the pair together are somewhat uncomfortable to watch. However, this is exactly how I can picture myself being when confronted with a slightly overbearing hitman that I have only recently met. Add the fact that Danny must also deal with Julian's psychological breakdown and you can actually see how these two guys try to feel each other out.
Richard Shepard's story is raw, real, cool and still fiction. He does not have all the snappy one-liners and situations that you would encounter in your standard comedy, but the director still finds time to make you giggle during very natural moments. Watching Danny try to convince Julian to finish his job was classic.
Both Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear play terrific roles in The Matador and I would personally like to see Brosnan adapt his Julian character into a type of prequel where we can learn more about his character during his earlier days of assassinating portfolios; days when he 'loved his job.'
The Matador finishes on a couple of light twists which also serve as a boost in understanding the characters and their friendship.
By the end of the film you begin to enjoy Julian's company and wish the best for the character; which is something I am sure Richard Shepard had wanted.