The Matador Review

The Matador film still

Score

The strength of this film is its desire to break the mould of genre convention in order to forge something less constricted.

Hit man. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. How else do the squeaky wheels of commerce get greased? Who else could facilitate the important closure of those difficult corporate deals? And what else could provide the financial rewards of fancy-free continent hopping without the perils of work, family or even a fixed abode?

But sometimes the life of a killer-for-hire isn't really all it's cracked up to be, particularly when you're a professional assassin who's beginning to lose his mind.

Enter the world of Julian Noble (a mustachioed Pierce Brosnan, with an ironic moniker to boot). Julian is a hit man – a 'facilitator' as his handler calls him – hired for corporate gigs; an anonymous mediator paid well to leave grease stains and slip out the back door. But Julian is lonely.

Hooking up with befuddled businessman Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) in the hotel bar, the two make an unlikely pairing, and when Danny's business pitch turns sour, he has nowhere else to go but the bull fights with Julian.

From here on in things get messy. When Danny learns of Julian's professional bent, he finds it impossible not to be drawn in – the glamour is undeniable – and Julian is in desperate need of a friend. If Danny knows better than to bond with a killer, it all goes south one drunken night when the pair become inextricably linked.

Although not an out-and-out comedy, the comedic turns are impressive – especially Brosnan's insidious Cockney ("Margaritas always taste better in Mexico... Margaritas and cock"). Even Hope Davis gets a few choice tit-bits as the perfect wife with an unhealthy interest in Noble's gun. And although not really a thriller either, the pacing is good and the set pieces are plentiful.

The strength of this film is its desire to break the mould of genre convention in order to forge something less constricted. With Brosnan's own persona-breaking turn, it manages something rare – a whole that appears greater than the sum of its parts.

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