The Matador is a 2005 dark comedy crime film written and directed by Richard Shepard and starring Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear.

The Matador
Theatrical poster
Directed byRichard Shepard
Written byRichard Shepard
Produced byPierce Brosnan
Ricardo Del Río
Bryan Furst
Sean Furst
Beau St. Clair
StarringPierce Brosnan
Greg Kinnear
Hope Davis
Philip Baker Hall
CinematographyDavid Tattersall
Edited byCarole Kravetz
Music byRolfe Kent
Distributed byThe Weinstein Company (North America)
Buena Vista International (International)[2]
Release date
  • January 2005 (2005-01) (Sundance)
  • December 30, 2005 (2005-12-30) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes
CountriesUnited States
United Kingdom
Budget$12.5 million
Box office$17.3 million

The film was released on DVD on July 4, 2006 and on HD DVD on December 18, 2006. Brosnan was nominated for both a Golden Globe Award and a Saturn Award for his performance as disillusioned, unstable hitman Julian Noble.[3]


An encounter in the bar of the Mexico City branch of the Camino Real Hotels, between tired businessman Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear), hoping to land a career-saving contract in Mexico, and jaded, falling-apart-at-the-seams assassin Julian Noble (Pierce Brosnan), leads them into an awkward friendship. Julian is confronting the immorality of his profession and experiencing a mid-life crisis that caused him to freeze on a job; Danny is fearing that a vitally important deal will fall through and cost him his job. After an uncomfortable-at-times conversation, Danny leaves the bar. Julian apologizes and invites him to see a bullfight. During the show, Julian reveals the kind of work he does, and when Danny is skeptical, takes him through the steps of how to murder a portly spectator in the arena bathroom. Danny is shocked at how easily Julian can get within inches of the man, even though he ends the "tutorial" without going through with the murder.

Later, while at an outdoor cafe, Julian asks Danny to assist him in "facilitating a fatality"; Danny flatly refuses and Julian leaves. On leaving, it appears that Julian has definitively had enough of Danny. However, that evening Julian knocks on Danny's hotel room door, pleading to be let in, wanting to apologize for attempting to involve Danny in his work. Danny sits within looking undecided, and the scene fades to black without revealing what happened next. There is the sound of glass breaking once the screen goes dark.

The film picks up again six months later, during the Christmas season. Danny and his wife, Bean (Hope Davis) are relaxing at their home in Denver when Julian arrives, looking for a place to stay. Danny and Bean have reservations, but decide to let him in. The grateful Julian notices that Danny has framed the bullfight ticket, which touches Julian.That night, he shares the reason for his visit: he needs help with his last job. Julian convinces Danny to go along with the plan because, he tells Danny, "you owe me." After much internal struggle and with Danny talking him through it, Julian completes the task at a Tucson horse race track.

On the plane back from Tucson, Julian reveals that the man he just killed was his long-term employer, Mr. Stick. Having killed him means that now Julian can retire to Greece. Danny is surprised, then amused at Julian's craftiness, but is reminded of Julian's profession when he lightly punches Julian in the shoulder and is quietly warned by Julian, "Don't ever hit me again.", so he immediately apologizes. A split flashback sequence during the flight home (a memory triggered by a statement of Danny's), shows what took place a year prior when Danny let Julian into his hotel room: Julian talked Danny out of commissioning a hit on a rival to win the Mexico City business deal.

Later, Danny and Bean are shown visiting their son's grave, something they do on the anniversary of his death. Julian watches respectfully from a distance, places plane tickets for Greece on their windshield, then slips away.


  • Pierce Brosnan as Julian Noble
  • Ramon Valverde as Young Julian
  • Greg Kinnear as Danny Wright
  • Hope Davis as Carolyn 'Bean' Wright
  • Philip Baker Hall as Mr. Randy
  • Dylan Baker as Mr. Lovell
  • William Raymond as Mr. Stick
  • Adam Scott as Phil Garrison
  • Portia Dawson as Genevive
  • Arturo Echeverria as Manila Target
  • Israel Tellez as The Matador
  • Guillermo Ruiz as Fat Man
  • Hanny Saenz as Fat Man's Girlfriend
  • Azucena Medina as Denver Fling
  • Claudia Lobo as Vienna Fling
  • Gabriela Goldsmith as Flirting Woman At Outdoor Cafe
  • Maureen Muldoon as Australian Bar Waitress
  • Carolyn Horwitz as Cantina Trista #1
  • Rachel Schwartz as Cantina Trista #2
  • Luz Maria Molina as School Girl


Although Julian travels to Vienna, Las Vegas, Moscow, Sydney, Budapest, Tucson and Manila, the film was shot entirely in Mexico City. According to the credits following the film, all bullfights were created using computer generated bulls. Actress Hope Davis was pregnant during the filming of the movie.

During the commentary for the first deleted scene on the DVD, director Richard Shephard states that the first cut of the film was 2 hours and 10 minutes and was cut down to its current length of 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Pierce Brosnan's screen worn Sombrero featured in the film was sold at auction for $22,000.[4][better source needed]

Critical reactionEdit

Having been screened at the Sundance, Toronto International, and Chicago International film festivals prior to its release, the film was generally well received by critics. Early professional reviews praised Pierce Brosnan's performance, as well as the film's unique and provocative premise and themes.[5]

Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, on their television show At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper, gave it an enthusiastic "two thumbs up," with Ebert praising the movie as "an overlooked gem" and "Pierce Brosnan's best work to date."

As of June 2020, the film holds a 75% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 156 reviews, with an average rating of 6.68/10. The critical consensus states that "This humorously amoral, oddball comic thriller features strong performances by Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear as a flamboyant, aging hit-man and an out of work suburban businessman, respectively."[6]

Pierce Brosnan was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy at the 63rd Golden Globe Awards, although Joaquin Phoenix ultimately won for Walk the Line (2005).


The soundtrack was released in 2006 on Superb Records.

Track listing
  1. "Town Called Malice" - The Jam - 2:54
  2. "El Matador" - Los Fabulosos Cadillacs - 4:35
  3. "It's Not Unusual" - Tom Jones - 2:00
  4. "1, 2, 3, 4" - Titan - 4:13
  5. "Manila Fiasco" - Rolfe Kent - 2:38
  6. "Garbageman" - The Cramps - 3:35
  7. "Heat of the Moment" - Asia - 3:50
  8. "Bahía Blanca" - Ramón Stagnaro - 3:03
  9. "A Mi Guitarra" - Daniel Indart - 2:49
  10. "Matador Theme" - Rolfe Kent - 2:42
  11. "One Night in Mexico" - Rolfe Kent - 2:39
  12. "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" - Dave VanNorden - 3:13
  13. "No Te Rajes" - Mariachi La Estella ' 3:03
  14. "All These Things That I've Done" - The Killers - 5:02


  1. ^ a b "The Matador (2005) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  2. ^ "The Matador". Box Office Mojo. IMDb.
  3. ^ Roger Ebert's review of The Matador
  4. ^ "The Matador (2005) - Did You Know?". Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  5. ^ Honeycutt, Kirk. "The Matador." Hollywood Reporter. Jan. 22, 2005
  6. ^ "The Matador (2006)". Retrieved 22 June 2020 – via

External linksEdit