AFTER THE SUNSET
** (out of 5)
November 12, 2004
Pierce Brosnan as MAX BURDETT
Salma Hayek as LOLA CIRILLO
Woody Harrelson as STAN LLOYD
Don Cheadle as HENRI MOREE
Naomie Harris as SOPHIE
Studio: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Brett Ratner
BY KEVIN CARR
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Earlier this year, a film was released with very little fanfare called “The Big Bounce.” It had some great names behind it, including Elmore Leonard, Morgan Freeman, Owen Wilson and Gary Sinese. However, while the filmmakers tried to capture the whimsical dark comedy that was seen in films like “Get Shorty,” they failed to capture it. By the end of the film, the snappy heist story fell apart with unclear plot points and sloppy characterization.
It just goes to show you that films as whole are not always as good as the sum of their parts.
Much is the same with “After the Sunset.” (See, there was a reason I was digging up a lackluster film from earlier in the year.) Like “The Big Bounce,” “After the Sunset” comes across initially as a smart little heist film. But in order to stretch it into an entire feature, it has to find something to do in the middle.
Overall, this relatively unnecessary middle part isn’t too bad when taking out of context. In fact, on its own, it can be quite funny if you think homoerotic tension between Pierce Brosnan and Woody Harrelson is cute. But it doesn’t quite work with the rest of the story. Additionally, the often brilliant Don Cheadle is underused in this film with only a peripheral involvement in the plot. There was so much more they could have done with his character.
“After the Sunset” tells the story of Max (Pierce Brosnan), a retired jewel thief. After swiping two of the three largest diamonds in the world, Max and his partner in crime Lola (Salma Hayek) settle down in the Bahamas. However Stan Lloyd (Woody Harrelson), the FBI agent who has been chasing Max for years, meets up with them in their tropical paradise. Stan is placing his money on the fact that Max is going to come out of retirement to steal the third diamond from a cruise ship docked on their island.
The film begins nicely as a heist film, and there’s plenty of humor as Max runs circles around the bumbling Agent Lloyd. However, the movie just seems to mark time in its own whimsical situations while Max and Lola try to make a decision about stealing the diamond, and Stan tries to woo the pretty local police woman (Naomie Harris).
But let’s get down to the real positive features of “After the Sunset.” There are two big reasons I was enthralled with the movie, and both of them have to do with Salma Hayek.
Yeah, I know that’s sexist and chauvinistic, but you have to realize that Salma Hayek’s wobbly bits are the biggest draw of this film. And it’s not like this was an accident. She spends more time in bikini tops than J. Edgar Hoover did on the weekend.
But don’t worry, ladies. This film has something in it for you as well – Pierce Brosnan. Now, I’m happily married with two sons, but even I can recognize that Pierce Brosnan is a good looking guy. And, like his sexy co-star Hayek, he is paraded around plenty.
So, I’ll be the first to point out the plot could have been stronger. But if you are gonna skimp on the plot, it’s not a bad idea to have a really good looking cast. And Woody Harrelson and Naomie Harris don’t look too bad either.
“After the Sunset” tries to be two different films. On one hand, it’s the heist film about a retired jewel thief making one last big score. On the other hand, it’s a quirky light comedy about an FBI agent’s love-hate relationship with his nemesis. It would have been greatly improved if it would have just stuck with one of these goals.
To their credit, the cast is the only thing holding this film together, and its shaky storytelling has proved that Hollywood golden boy Brett Ratner ain’t all that and a bag of chips. Now, I’ve liked a lot of Ratner’s work, but he was due for a stumble, and he made it here. Hopefully this will keep his paws off of the Superman franchise as we roll into the future.