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Pierce Brosnan
Greg Kinnear
Hope Davis.
Richard Shepard.
Richard Shepard.
Running Time
97 minutes

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The Matador
Pierce Brosnan's stellar performance as a despicable - yet likeable - alcoholic hitman.

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Freelance hit man Julian Noble (Brosnan) is past his best. He can still kill with efficient impunity, but there’s a great hollow at the centre of his life — human contact. When he meets travelling salesman Danny Wright (Kinnear), an ordinary Joe down on his luck, a strange bond forms between them, somewhere between friendship and manipulation.

The Matador
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He’s dabbed his toenails purple, told some snoopy kid where to get off and detonated a bomb under a Porsche, but it’s the moment when Pierce Brosnan’s fraying hit man, lubricated with Mexican beer, strolls through a hotel lobby that seals the deal. Not an unusual event, you might surmise. Many a Bond film has seen the actor swaggering through the world’s most polished foyers in bespoke threads. But never before has the 007-that-was done so sporting only a pair of unfortunate black Speedos, Village People facial hair and ankle-high winklepickers, his knobbly white knees and growing paunch there for all to take in and hoot at. This is an acting showcase determined to explode preconceptions, to dismantle an ordered past and reveal its star as an able-bodied and fully game comedian.

Not that Richard Shepard’s talky, loose-limbed movie is exactly a comedy. It’s a wiry, energetic, genre-cracking serving of pulp fiction, spiced with the jalapeno-kicks of Tarantino and Rodriguez and dedicated to the quirks and calamities of its characters. The writer-director is entranced by the curious dynamic, the unpredictable qualities of human connection, between this lairy, odd-jobbing assassin and Greg Kinnear’s uptight violet. As Brosnan cuts loose, leering, lying, and spilling about on the wrong side of best behaviour, Kinnear skilfully reels it all in, a mild-mannered dope lured way out of his comfort zone.

There is just the scent of threat to Noble’s intent, a slight Tom Ripley-ish warp to the encounter that staggers among the heated, grumbling streets of Mexico City. By the time Noble crashes Wright’s American home and draws his guileless wife (an ever-excellent Hope Davis) into his strident breakdown, you await the nasty shudder. No dice. Shepard concludes with a rather flat note, sapping the hilarious sprawl of their adventure of its creepy thrill, like a great gig that neglects the obligatory encore. Even so, all that’s gone before still brings the movie close enough to that great intangible — cool.

We’ve never seen Pierce Brosnan so liberated — he’s a man reborn, and for what The Matador may lack in rounded plotting, it makes up for in funny, spiky, idiosyncratic glee.

Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Average user rating for The Matador
Empire Star Rating

Quirky and Fun

You get the feeling that Pierce Brosnan needed - not just wanted - to do this movie. He is everything that James Bond isn't, and Brosnan more than proves that he has the acting talent to shed his 007 image and realisticaly portray a professional hitman who drinks too much, relishes sex with underage girls, and is suffering from burnout. A hitman who cannot be counted on to hit the target becomes a target himself, and Brosnan's character is painfully aware of it. This is a fine performance ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by magiclips at 05:59, 28 November 2012 | Report This Post


Wonderful wee movie. I want to watch it again. ... More

Posted by max314 at 02:53, 14 September 2009 | Report This Post


How did I miss this film?! I loved it and thought it deserves its 4/5 rating. ... More

Posted by Chojin at 22:47, 13 September 2009 | Report This Post

So far this is Brosnan's best performance to date, Julian is an asshole, but is so likeable, and has some of the funniest lines ever, the movie almost had me in tears, now that Bond's behind him he should do more movies like this. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dgribble at 19:05, 26 February 2008 | Report This Post

So far this is Brosnan's best performance to date, Julian is an asshole, but is so likeable, and has some of the funniest lines ever, the movie almost had me in tears, now that Bond's behind him he should do more movies like this. ... More

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Posted by dgribble at 19:05, 26 February 2008 | Report This Post

Great stuff- Brosnan and Kinear make a great comedy duo ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 16:41, 07 January 2007 | Report This Post

RE: Fucking Brilliant!

I had a result, I got a brand new copy off of a guy on Ebay for £4.20!! ... More

Posted by Dready at 18:37, 20 July 2006 | Report This Post

RE: Fucking Brilliant!

A funny, well-acted dark comedy which entertains throughout even if it is a bit lightweight. Pierce Brosnan puts in a terrific edgy performance as the lonely, self-loathing assassin Julian and has great fun sending up both James Bond and his sex symbol image. Greg Kinnear is also great as the down on his luck businessman who connects with Julian and strikes up an unlikely friendship. The dialogue between these two is smart and witty and provides a good few laughs. It does all end a bit tame... More

Posted by MOTH at 09:27, 20 July 2006 | Report This Post

Fucking Brilliant!

That it is all. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jim Bob at 15:05, 11 July 2006 | Report This Post

The Matador

Loved this film. I thought Brosnan was excellent and some of his lines had me in stitches (opening line to Greg Kinnear's character was classic). Not a rib tickler by any means but one of those films you can't help but have a grin on your face all the way through. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trueborndjross at 13:59, 12 March 2006 | Report This Post

RE: The Matador

I also thought the ending was a little weak, not because of the brilliant final assasination, but because of the way there are constant references to what greg kinear's characer was hiding from his wife and then, after all the build up to it, it turns out nothing major happened - a big anti-climax   ... More

Posted by sheepinator88 at 11:45, 12 March 2006 | Report This Post

Brosnan done good....

Even better than i thought it was gonna be. Brosnan is my favorite bond but shows amazing range playing Julian...very funny and very smart. I'd highly reccomend it! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AboyNamedSue at 01:05, 10 March 2006 | Report This Post

Bloody good fun

The Matador is far from a perfect film, but what it is is likeable, entertaining, well made and very bloody funny. Brosnan is reborn in the role of a downtrodden, despicable hitman, good at his job but incapable of functioning as a member of the human race. In fact, it’s a revelatory performance, banishing not only the shadow of Bond, but also the patchy choices of his earlier career. The man is now a bona fide star, and a very good actor, too. This is the performance of his career. His chara... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by britesparc at 16:59, 09 March 2006 | Report This Post

RE: The Matador

Watching Pierce Brosnan knocking back margaritas with a large porn star mustache and telling jokes about midgets and 15 inch dicks, you can't help thinking he possibly couldn't get futher away from the suave M16 agent he is best known for.   The Matador was much darker in it's humour than i thought it would be. When Brosnan isn't telling kids that he wouldn't date their mothers unless they "lost 30 pounds and 20 years", he's eye up jailbait and dishing out lines like "not for all ... More

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Posted by Timon at 10:39, 09 March 2006 | Report This Post


it deserves to be seen all over ... More

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Posted by Movie Dude at 03:31, 09 March 2006 | Report This Post

Never being a major Brosnan fan in the past, this film has made me think again. A good film, with some good laughs from the start. I enjoyed it very much indeed. Recommended. ... More

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Posted by Dready at 23:27, 08 March 2006 | Report This Post

RE: Matador, The

Superb movie, superb performance p; Brosnan is magical in this, and Kinnear is on good form too. Very funny film p; 4/5 ... More

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Posted by DJ Rob C: Mark II! at 23:13, 07 March 2006 | Report This Post

RE: Matador, The

This is a world class film, Pierce Brosnan is good in this film. So is the supporting actor Greg Kinnear. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dr. salvador at 13:22, 07 March 2006 | Report This Post

RE: Matador, The

This film is essentially a story about an unexpected friendship between two very different characters. There wasn't as much action as I expected - it's mostly dialogue between the two main characters. And although it made me chuckle in places it isn't an out-and-out comedy. Pierce Brosnan gives a great performance - he's strangely sympathetic as a loser hitman, and I was watching interested to see what he would do next. It's a good movie, but I think it could have been bette... More

Posted by Electric Babarella at 10:59, 07 March 2006 | Report This Post


I never expected this one to be so funny.  Loving the political incorrectness!  ... More

Posted by smila darcy at 20:40, 06 March 2006 | Report This Post

'The Matador' starts somewhat shakily, the jokes seeming pointlessly profane and laddish and the darker moments out of place. As a result the first part of the film is a little disengaging and dissapointing. Happily the film soon settles into it's own pace, Brosnan and Kinnear providing a great team. Reminiscent in places of the recent knowingly referential 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang', the film is likey to be best remembered as Brosnan's two fingers to the Bond franchise, with some amusing and very cl... More

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Posted by Grandma Death at 22:11, 04 March 2006 | Report This Post


Yeh this films got my vote too and it proves that even though he's riffing off his Bond image as Julian Brosnan is a quality actor and possesses some top comedy skills. I second the recommendation. ... More

Posted by Gob at 14:10, 04 March 2006 | Report This Post


"I wouldn't do that for all the teenage twat in Thailand!"   p; Have to say, laughed myself silly several times watching this. Just when you think Brosnan can't possibly say anything more innapropriate, he goes and does just that, absolutely hilarious. On top of that there's a great little buddy flick going on here that ends up being (inspite of all the crudeness) rather sweet and touching come the end credits.   Thoroughly recommended!   4/5 ... More

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Posted by paulyboy at 23:33, 03 March 2006 | Report This Post

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