Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Buddy movies should all bounce along as well as 2005’s The Matador even if its frequently obvious symbolism rendered it something more like The Metaphor.
With the strangely inspired pairing of Pierce Brosnan as a hitman and Greg Kinnear as a friendly businessman, The Matador chewed over much more than the weenie-meets-warrior vibe of Analyze This. Deeper grooves about friendship, loss and the resonance of honest, helpful conversation afforded Brosnan his best work yet.
Brosnan’s Julian Noble is an aging “facilitator of fatalities” with a brain and soul numbed by his occupation. He’s even painting his toenails and having flashes of dementia. Not only in mimicking Bill Murray by jumping into a pool while scantily clad, this is Brosnan’s Rushmore. His self-confidence has never felt so down for the count. Julian could use a buddy.
Enter Danny (Kinnear), a Denver businessman making a last-ditch pitch to investors in Mexico City (where Julian has just finished a hit). Something happens between them offscreen, and, months later, Julian winds up on Danny’s Denver doorstep with his employers, angered over a botched job, hot on his heels.
Interestingly, writer-director Richard Shepard pushed any of the obvious suburban malaise jokes to the background and uncovered truly funny ways to get Danny caught up in the kill as a sort of motivator.
He also strategically and skillfully withheld information until the final moments — turning an agreeable entertainment into a moving finale — and never tried to gore the audience with this snappy mix of sass and sentiment.