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The Matador is a 2005 dark comedy film written and directed by Richard Shepard and starring Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear. It is the second Miramax film that was not sold to Filmyard Holdings on December 3, 2010 nor beIN Media Group on March 2, 2016. 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 well-received performance as disillusioned, unstable hitman Julian Noble.[1]

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



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 life-saving contract in Mexico, and jaded, falling-apart-at-the-seams assassin Julian Noble (Pierce Brosnan), leads both men into an awkward friendship. Julian is confronting the immorality of his profession and experiencing a mid-life crisis that causes 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 spectacle, Julian reveals the kind of work he truly does, and when Danny is skeptical, takes Danny through the steps of murdering a portly spectator in the arena bathroom. Danny is shocked at how easily Julian can get within inches of the man, even though Julian 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 the idea seems to be that Julian has had enough of Danny and their friendship has just ended. That evening Julian appears at Danny's hotel room, knocking on the door, pleading to be let in; Julian wants 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 when Julian arrives, looking for a place to stay. Danny and Bean have reservations about the situation, but decide to let him in. The grateful Julian notices that Danny has framed the ticket from the bullfight, an act that affects Julian profoundly. That night, he shares the real reason for his visit: he needs help with one 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 boss. Killing the boss means now Julian can retire and spend the rest of his life in Greece. Danny is surprised, then amused at Julian's craftiness, but is reminded of Julian's lethal personality when he lightly punches Julian in the shoulder and is sternly warned by Julian, "Don't ever hit me again." Danny remembers his friend is still a killer and immediately apologizes. A split flashback sequence during the flight home (memories triggered by a statement Danny makes), 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 the grave of their son, something they do together every year. Julian watches respectfully from a distance, places plane tickets for Greece (his intended place of retirement) on their car windshield, then slips away.



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.[2]

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.[3]

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."

It has a favorable 74% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 152 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. 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."

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. ^ Roger Ebert's review of The Matador
  2. ^ "The Matador (2005) - Did You Know?". Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  3. ^ Honeycutt, Kirk. "The Matador." Hollywood Reporter. Jan. 22, 2005

External linksEdit