Golden Globe, Saturn & IFTA Best Actor nominated performance by Pierce Brosnan
Deleted Scenes/ Making Of Featurette
Director & Cast Commentaries
Roger Ebert: Writer-director Richard Shepard finds an eerie balance of the macabre, the delightful and the sentimental; the movie is so nimble it sometimes switches tones in the middle of a sentence.
Everything centers on the best performance Pierce Brosnan has ever given. He's a loner with no home and no friends, a man who uses booze and prostitutes to distract himself from killing people for a living. He's coming to pieces when he meets Kinnear in a hotel bar. Kinnear can hardly believe Brosnan actually kills people, and there is a virtuoso sequence at a bullfight when Brosnan demonstrates how easy it would be to kill -- well, almost anyone. But he's beginning to fall apart, and botched a job in the Philippines.
Now his employers are planning to kill him. The problem with The Matador is that no description can do it justice, because its elements sound routine, but its direction, writing and acting elevate it into something very special. It's "Sideways" with death instead of wine, someone said after the screening. I think it was me.
Variety: Deftly maneuvering through audacious mood swings and tonal shifts, The Matador emerges as a quirky yet commercial commingling of black comedy, seriocomic psychodrama, heart-tugging sudser and buddy-movie farce. Propelled by a fearlessly self-mocking perf by Pierce Brosnan as a swaggering vulgarian who's losing his edge as an international hit man, writer-director Richard Shepard's eccentric amalgam remains funny and sustains interest even during a shaky third act. --Joe Leydon
New York Magazine: For an assassin, he’s a nice guy,” says Greg Kinnear of Pierce Brosnan’s character in this breezy outing. Brosnan sends up his James Bond image by playing a potbellied “facilitator of fatalities,” a once debonair hit man who’s having a crashing midlife crisis. Kinnear is the ordinary Joe who gets involved in Brosnan’s glammy but dangerous life (they bond after a drunken night in Mexico City). Throw in the luminous Hope Davis as Kinnear’s bedazzled wife—she’s more convinced of Brosnan’s killer staying power than he is—and you’ve got one nifty little suspense comedy. Writer-director Richard Shepard may toss one or two too many twists into his corkscrew plot to keep The Matador from occasionally becoming merely ridiculous, but Brosnan stays on-point as a man who doubts the worth of his entire adult life: Even his despair has panache.— Ken Tucker
Premiere: It’s a role that essentially demystifies Brosnan’s star persona, and in it he is simply sensational, funnier and more persuasively neurotic than even a devoted fan might expect. ... The Matador manages to resolve a complicated plot [...] with more insight and cleverness than any comedy this year. That’s a testament to the relatively unknown Shepard’s imagination and smarts.
N.Y. Observer: It’s a savage, breezy, occasionally obscene and sometimes poignant mix of comedy and crime about a scruffy international contract killer and a meek Denver businessman whose lives become serendipitously intertwined in Mexico City. Mr. Brosnan has never been better... Stylistically, The Matador is like Julian: bold, quick and effortlessly entertaining. And the film is a delectable revelation for Mr. Brosnan—skillfully funny, messily handsome and deliciously sleazy. Self-parody? Maybe. (He’s one of the producers.) He’s explored his subtle and sensitive sides before, but thanks to the witty and twisted script, he shows something new here. He also proves that tuxedos can turn into straitjackets and that bad boys have more fun. Blond, steely-eyed Daniel Craig may grab the publicity as the new 007 for now (and discover the downside later)—but in The Matador, the old 007 is pulling off something sneaky and altogether exhilarating. -- Rex Reed
L.A. Times: In "The Matador," a delightfully sly diversion, Pierce Brosnan breaks the mold and turns in what might be considered the performance of his career, the kind of witty, relaxed star portrayal that recalls those of Cary Grant and other Golden Era legends. Setting him up to perfection is Greg Kinnear, every bit as amusing and assured. As if this weren't enough, Hope Davis, one of the most protean young actresses working in films, lends further sparkle and drollery. "The Matador" marks a fine feature debut for Richard Shepard, who exhibits that precious gift of being able to work in the mainstream yet maintain the utmost sophistication in his point of view and in dialogue that crackles with inspired wit and humor.... Shepard, however, is a genuine high-wire artist, and although Julian may be losing his grip, "The Matador," which manages to be stylish without ever seeming slick, never does. It is contemporary in tone but has that combination of sentiment and worldliness of beloved Hollywood classics with their confident effortlessness and throwaway humor — Billy Wilder comes to mind. -- Kevin Thomas
Hollywood Reporter: The Matador gets a 151-proof tequila shot of sharp comedy from the droll interplay between Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear. --Kirk Honeycutt
Film Threat: In Richard Shepard's highly satisfying The Matador, Pierce Brosnan screws, chews and woos the scenery like it's none of your business. It's a slam-bang revelation for the actor. Yes, this is basically a buddy picture, but one with a fresh, vaguely deviant sensibility. With focused direction and engaging screenplay by Richard Shepard, you might actually find yourself feeling for this troubled hit man and his more domesticated buddy. The film has a really great look with bold colors and in your face attitude. Above it all is Brosnan's refreshingly bold performance, probably his finest, that really makes this picture seethe and breathe with nasty abandon. He blows us all away. -- Daniel Wible
Daily: Chief among its pleasures is a deliciously
performance from Pierce Brosnan. -- Mike Goodridge
Rolling Stone: Take that 007 job and shove it. If Pierce Brosnan can be as roaringly fierce and funny as he is as Julian Noble, a hit man suffering a meltdown, then who needs James Bond? Writer-director Richard Shepard gives Brosnan his meatiest role ever, and he digs in with relish. The sight of a drunken Brosnan walking through a hotel lobby in nothing but cowboy boots and Speedos is time-capsule-worthy. Julian meets Denver exec Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) at a bar in Mexico City, a place where Julian insists the margaritas taste best -- and also the cock. The gay joke flips out Danny, but the two become friends -- an odd coupling that lets Brosnan and Kinnear lob comic fastballs. But Julian is falling apart. This top "facilitator of fatalities" can't squeeze the trigger. How Danny, with a wife (Hope Davis) back home, manages to figure in Julian's rehab as a killer is a surprise no review should reveal. Just sit back and enjoy the fun. -- Peter Travers
Movieline: Of all the [current] movies centering on male angst, the most compelling by far is The Matador, Richard Shepard’s film about a hit man suffering a nervous breakdown. This isn’t a brand new storyline, but it’s rendered with marvelous brio. Pierce Brosnan gives his best performance yet. He doesn’t try to gloss over Julian’s brutality or sleaziness, but we can understand why Danny (Greg Kinnear), the mild-mannered businessman who meets him at a hotel bar in Mexico, would be drawn to him. Julian is so honest about his amorality that he’s mesmerizing. The film has the same kind of sinful allure as Julian; it’s fast, funny and intoxicating. The violent scenes have a startling immediacy, but the film has just as much punch in its more intimate encounters. Kinnear creates a deft portrait of a cautious man who is coming apart in his own way. Reeling from the death of a child and hampered by financial pressures, Kinnear’s Danny is feeling vulnerable when he meets Julian and falls under his spell. The unlikely friendship betwen these two very different men galvanizes this macabre variation of “The Odd Couple.” Julian and Danny end up aiding each other in unexpected ways; each helps the other to quell some of his demons. The Matador may not be a profound exploration of male malaise, but it’s almost an obscenely entertaining look at two men on the verge of a nervous breakdown. -- Stephen Farber
Denver Post: Julian Noble's march across a Mexico City hotel patio, wearing black speedos and cowboy boots, is one of those deliriously incandescent moments that flash across the screen from time to time. Pierce Brosnan's full-on performance as an aging hit man makes this just one of the outrageous scenes on The Matador. In imagining an unlikey friendship between Brosnan and Greg Kinnear, writer/director Richard Shepard (with the supercharged help of cinematographer David Tattersall and editor Carole Kravitz-Aykanian) serves up two portraits of desperation. He also delivers one wildly frenetic riff on the transformational properties of comraderie. What transpires between Danny and Julian in Mexico is bizarre enough. When Julian shows up at Danny's home in Denver, things go from mad to sweetly perverse. Skillfully maneuvering a number of genres here, Shepard could easily be the matador of his movie's title. With a character like Julian, he's taken a lot of bull and won. -- Lisa Kennedy
6 Degrees Film: Brosnan, who turns in a wonderfully layered performance without a hint of vanity proves to be the biggest surprise of the film. ... Whether playing broad comedy or highly emotive drama, he successfully finds the right pitch to connect the scene to the audience. A perfect example of this is the scene where he is phoning around trying to find a friend to spend some time with. Julian's despair at the lack of human contact (cemented with a sad pay off at the close of the scene) has a dreadful sense of reality to it and strikes a raw nerve.
What impresses most about The Matador is what a fine showcase for character acting the film is. The three principles all deliver fully rounded performances and play off each other beautifully. Despite a brief running time (the film flies by and certainly could have been longer) there is a sense of familiarity about the characters and it seems sad to point out that this is something of a rarity in cinema today.
The film feels fresh and different from other examples of the genre, harking back in some ways to the 1970's era of American cinema where character and plot lead the way. The fact that it also manages to convey a cool, edgy sensibility is a welcome bonus making the film the first must see movie of 2006. -- Jonathan Wilkins
HBS/JoBlo:The Matador is one of the festival's most pleasant surprises thus far. It stars Pierce Brosnan (who is drop-dead hilariously brilliant here) as a burnt-out assassin and Greg Kinnear as a nice-guy businessman who finds himself pals with the gleefully profane hitman. Hope Davis delivers a great supporting turn, the flick is directed with big doses of colorful zing, and the screenplay delivers surprises that don't feel tacked on or stupid. It's consistently funny, lovely to look at...and it even gets bizarrely sweet when all's said and done. Good stuff! -- Scott Weinberg
E! Online: Favorite [Sundance] Moments: Pierce Brosnan's cheesy, heartbreaking hit man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He befriends regular guy Greg Kinnear for some sad/hilarious male bonding. It's sort of like Sideways with sniper rifles and hookers.
EInsiders: Oddly and darkly funny with a hint of sadness The Matador ought to play well throughout the world having something for just about all tastes. And Brosnan is a delight when he reels off crude one liners or melts into an emotional puddle. -- Jonathan W. Hickman
HBS/eFilmCritic.com : Brosnan's performance here is a sincere treasure; possibly the most entertaining of his career. Greg Kinnear is a great straight man for him and Hope Davis delivers a giddily funny turn as the wife who goes all gooey not for the man, but for his gun. Writer/director Shepard certainly deserves his share for putting the words into Brosnan's mouth. Julian and Danny are rich characters, grasping for something more but not ready to come to terms with what they wish for. The Matador is solid entertainment through and through and will be worth seeing again and again just to watch Brosnan mop up the scenery.-- Erik Childress
Sun Media: It's a buddy road picture, in a darkly humorous wacko sort of way. And Brosnan is so good in the role you can tell what his character smells like. -- Liz Braun
NY Daily News : I don't know if [he'll] be touted for awards, but Pierce Brosnan is as endearingly weird as Christopher Walken in the comedy thriller The Matador, playing an international assassin with career fatigue. -- Jack Matthews
Mike D’Angelo: Shockingly good. [I]n fact it's a nimble, elegant little comedy of manners. Brosnan and Kinnear are note-perfect in tricky roles.
The Journal News: The Matador ... is as entertaining and funny a movie as I saw all week. Brosnan is great, in a role that feels like a sly send-up of his James Bond persona, and the supporting players (the busy Hope Davis and the peerless Philip Baker Hall) are just as good. --Kevin Canfeld
Film Stew: Shepard has fashioned a great offbeat buddy movie with terrific performances all around from a cast that includes in addition to Brosnan and Kinnear, Hope Davis and the wonderful Philip Baker Hall. But the movie belongs to Brosnan, who - in a single scene guzzling a beer and walking across a hotel lobby clad only in boots and tiny black Speedos - regulates Bond to the dustbin of history.-- Pam Grady
James Berardinelli: It's not hard to be enthusiastic about The Matador, an uncommon buddy film starring Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear. The film has a nicely modulated mix of comedy and pathos, but succeeds as much because of the two lead performances as Richard Shepard's writing and directing. This is an audience-pleaser through- and- through. ... Brosnan plays the role with a kind of manic energy more appropriate to Basil Fawlty than James Bond. Kinnear is the straight man. Together, these two make an appealing pair - something that's mandatory for the story to work.
Box Office Magazine: Incorporating exotic locales and fast-paced action sequences, "The Matador" plays off of Brosnan's James Bond persona to clever ironic effect. Fearless of looking absolutely ridiculous, Brosnan has traded in Bond's designer tuxedos for a Speedo and cowboy boots, perfectly embodying his hitman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. As the levelheaded businessman with emotional issues of his own, Kinnear's Danny complements Brosnan's eccentricity. Despite the film's tendency to veer in different directions--from physical comedy to serious drama to action caper--it is Kinnear's and, most especially Brosnan's, ability to showcase the complexities of the human psyche that keeps The Matador worthwhile. -- Francesca Dinglasan
Geoffrey Gilmore (Sundance Festival Director): If Pierce Brosnan wearing a black Speedo, cowboy boots, and sunglasses and smoking a cigar wasn't in itself worth the price of admission, everything else one gets in this rapturously conceived comedy about a lonely hit man would certainly be enough. But the glorious excesses that writer/director Richard Shepard offers are just part of the considerable range of payoffs that make The Matador a delightful mix of genres that simultaneously spoofs the buddy film, killers, and ordinary American life while it plumbs the complexities of the human heart. ...
When the twists and turns of fate are revealed, it becomes clear that Shepard has crafted an enormously entertaining work that takes the hit-man film and spins it on its head while creating a funny and strangely poignant story that is original and genuinely moving. With an outrageously unique performance by Brosnan, and great turns by Kinnear and Hope Davis, The Matador is a film that will stay fixed in your memory long after the curtain has closed.
Toronto International Film Festival: The literal translation of the word matador is “killer.” Julian Noble (Pierce Brosnan) prefers to call himself a “facilitator of fatalities.” In this darkest of comedies, the truth - and the inescapable mirth - resides in the grey areas between moral absolutes.
Stylistically, The Matador sides with Julian: it is bold, quick and effortlessly entertaining. It fully realizes the comic potential of the odd couple pairing by combining the ribald dialogue of a comedy of manners with subversive wit. Hope Davis is delectable as Danny’s naive wife, Bean, who gets moony over Julian’s “glamorous” lifestyle - the flirtatious banter between the two provides some of the film’s most sparkling moments. Brosnan’s turn as Julian is priceless: he is skilfully funny, gruffly handsome and deliciously sleazy in what can only be described as a self-parody.
asserts with confidence
that bad boys have more fun. But in Julian’s case, fun comes at a cost.
The film’s playfully outrageous treatment of strangely familiar ethical
questions is both eye-opening and exhilarating.
Valley Film Festival: In this stylish, hilarious
about a hit man and the damage done, Pierce Brosnan drags his
James Bond persona through the wringer and down several flights of
to create Julian Noble, a gone-to-seed assassin whose killer's vanity
matched only by his love of liquor and sex. His own vanity forgotten,
makes Noble—a "facilitator of fatalities"—outrageously inappropriate, a
profane wreck. Happenstance throws Noble together with chirpy suburban
husband Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear); as this unlikely pair runs out of
luck in Mexico City, each desperately wants what the other has. With
visuals (courtesy of Star Wars' Tattersall) and a great soundtrack, the
film crackles along as each man confronts his own Faustian bargain to a
strangely sweet end. Still, it's Brosnan and his magnetic cauldron of
pleading, irrepressible charm that really kills. —J. Campbell
[ Pierce Brosnan Files ]
Updated: July 23, 2013