If it's a finger-up at a franchise you're after, you can't get much better. Sure, Brosnan's Julian Noble is all guns and lady-lovin'. But, here, he does so sporting the facial hair of a pimp and spouting such choice chestnuts as, "I wouldn't do that for all the teenage twat in Thailand."
We first meet his ruthless assassin (or as he has it, "Facilitator of Fatalities") in bed with a beautiful naked woman - though any Bondian overtones are soon dashed when he lifts the covers to ogle her rump, before painting his toenails with her pretty purple nail varnish. For reasons, brilliantly, never explained.
The Matador hinges on Brosnan's relationship with Kinnear's anal businessman; and their scrapes flit between the fun, the contrived and the self-conscious. The script's blend of Odd Couple banter and Elmore Leonard criminal kookiness, meanwhile, gels when the two are together, but struggles to connect when new characters (especially a wasted Hope Davis) are incorporated into its overly clever-clever orbit.
When it works, though, it's champion. Having long bemoaned Bond's buttoned-up conservatism, Brosnan lets rip with a swagger that's clearly been squished under his tux for too long - not least when he strides through a hotel lobby in cowboy boots and Speedos, beer in one hand, fag in the other, and flops into a swimming pool housing a great white shark. It may be more Hunter S Thompson than 007, but Brosnan pulls it off with a confidence that suggests he won't be missing his PPK anytime soon. Bye-bye to Bond, then. With bells on.
A bizarro buddy movie that's tonally all over the place, but packed with outlandish action and laughs... and a Brosnan unlike ever before.
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