He might be out as James Bond, but Pierce Brosnan still does caper films effectively enough.
She Said/He Said: After the Sunset
By Kim Hollis
November 11, 2004
After the Sunset is a crowd-pleasing, fast-paced popcorn flick that has all the hallmarks of being a Brett Ratner film. Beautiful protagonists, snappy interplay and humorous adult situations all combine for an entertaining ride that keeps the audience guessing right up to the very end.
Early on, a copy of a videotape of Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief is shown, and it's pretty apparent that Ratner is hoping to emulate that masterpiece in some regards. He matches up his late middle-aged thief (Brosnan) with a younger hottie (Salma Hayek) in an unfurling mystery that has one never quite knowing if the "hero" is masterminding the jewel heist, successfully manipulating others to do his bidding, or a patsy who is being set up.
The premise of the film is simple, though the events that unfold become more complicated as the plot progresses. Brosnan plays retired jewel thief Max Burdett, who has moved to a lush tropical island with partner in crime - and lover - Lola Cirillo (Hayek). All of a sudden, FBI agent Stan Lloyd (Woody Harrelson) shows up on the island, which is significant because in the past, Burdett has made a fool of the man on many an occasion. Lloyd informs Burdett that the final diamond in the set he has been allegedly stealing will be on a cruise ship set to dock on their humble island. From there, the fun begins.
Brosnan brings his usual suave elegance to the role, but along with that there's a certain world-weariness that is entirely appropriate to the character. His interplay with Harrelson in particular works nicely, as both men have excellent timing and an unabashed willingness to embrace the goofy. Nothing is ever taken too seriously, and as a result, their relationship is a lot of fun.
On the other hand, while Hayek is lovely to look at, she doesn't bring much else to the table. She's a very average actress at best and her attempt to play exasperated is worthy of eye-rolling. Honestly, Naomie Harris' tough island cop Sophie is by far the more likeable female character. Don Cheadle is also along for the ride, albeit in a very minor role that hardly allows the audience to appreciate his knack for sarcasm.
The entire caper takes place in the Bahamas, which allows for some lush scenery both on the beach and under the ocean. It also unfortunatelyaffords the opportunity to create some very stereotyped versions of the island's denizens - gang-like thugs, incompetent police, and genial service industry types.
While I generally find Lalo Schifrin's scores to be abrasive, the work he has done for After the Sunset is quite exemplary for the most part. Easy-going Caribbean sounds complement the bulk of the film, though when the action picks up, the music moves right along with it. That's pretty significant praise, too, because the composer's work in Rush Hour 2 in particular did nothing more than take me straight out of the film.
As is important for a film of the caper genre, After the Sunset moves along at a very fast clip. It's never boring, hurtling the audience along towards an ending that manages to not quite be an ending.
In the end, probably the film's greatest strength is the back-and-forth between Harrelson and Brosnan. Constantly trying to one-up each other, their storyline allows for a lot of laughs that are interspersed in amongst the action. Harrelson's goofy nature in particular is used to optimum advantage. It's a pleasant surprise in an agreeable - if rather forgettable - jewel heist flick.