Friendships come in all shapes and sizes, and often when you least expect them. Julian Noble (Pierce Brosnan) meets Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) on a lonely evening at a hotel bar in Mexico City. They are both on business trips: Julian is traveling the country as a hired hitman and Danny is a salesman trying to close a deal. They come from two different worlds and are brought together by a late night desire to get sloshed.
But not all friendships kick off smoothly. When Danny points out that margaritas in Mexico are the best tasting, Julian chimes in with, “yes, margaritas and cock.” He is joking, but his life as a hitman without a home or friends has hindered his social skills significantly. Danny is a bit frightened and tries to walk away, but Julian wants to continue their conversation. Reluctantly, he returns, and talks about his wife back home who he loves dearly, Bean (Hope Davis) and a son that they tragically lost a few years ago. Julian interrupts his sad tale to tell a dirty joke about a man who has a schlong the size of a swizzle stick. He's trying to change the topic and lighten the mood, but his timing is distasteful and Danny once again excuses himself.
It won’t be long before they’re back to more bizarre exchanges, like a demented version of “The Odd Couple” planted across the border. The Matador is a movie about two wildly different men who somehow become friends. Even though they are both sad in their lives for different reasons, together they are hilarious. Julian craves friendship in his detached life, and Danny desires excitement and success. They bond by going to bull fights and out for drinks at the drop of a hat.
When Julian starts to have a nervous breakdown and can no longer continue shooting people, he clings to Danny for help. He begs for assistance in murdering his targets, which naturally, Danny wants nothing to do with. But when Danny desperately needs a business deal closed, will he turn to Julian to off his competition? The line of difference between straight-laced suburbanite Danny and outlandish, womanizing Julian is paper thin, and that’s what makes the movie work. These are not caricature guys—Danny the hero, Julian the villain—and they find out how easily they can rub off on each other.
The Matador is an edgy buddy comedy with pitch-perfect chemistry and gut-busting banter. While the hitman genre is overdone, writer/director Richard Shepard breathes new life into it by making a film that is genuinely funny instead of intense or scary. Pierce Brosnan plays completely against type and shows his eccentric freaky side, while Greg Kinnear plays a guy with a heart of gold, flaunting his ace comic timing. In someone else's hands, this movie could have been terrible, but taken on by Shepard it ends up being a silly adventure bursting with quirky flavor.
The trailer for The Matador is one of the worst of the year, which only makes the experience of watching it an even more surprising delight. Don’t let the lame trailer fool you; this dark comedy will have you in stitches. If you like perverse humor in the realm of Bad Santa and The Ref, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here. Friendships can catch you by surprise, and luckily, so can movies.