In The Matador, Pierce Brosnan plays a weary, boozy contract killer who just wants to be friends with Walter Mitty-like Greg Kinnear. Sounds like perfect casting, but the two leads don't really mesh, and the movie plods along endlessly, halfheartedly throwing in a twist near the end that only slightly mitigates the dullness.
Julian Noble trots the globe, shooting, stabbing, and exploding those whom he's paid to terminate. He's not a likable chap, this Julian. He likes his liquor strong and his girls young, if you know what I mean. After a job in Mexico City, Julian learns he may be on his way out of his amorphous organization; he then bumps into Danny Wright (Kinnear), a businessman who believes he's just made a successful pitch to a local company. Julian comes off as kind of a rude jerk who may or not be telling the truth, but once he convinces (truthfully) Danny that he (Julian) is indeed a paid assassin, the two sort of become pals.
It's a typical mismatched-buddies scenario - the loner and the married man, the odd duck and the straight arrow. Danny is married to Bean (Hope Davis), who becomes a little starstruck herself when she learns of Julian's occupation. But what of Julian's future? Will he soon be rubbed out by one of his own coworkers? This seems like a role tailor made for Brosnan, kind of a down-on-his-luck James Bond, but for some reason the character is a nasty, tough-to-read creep. Is he sincere or a sociopath? Is he being funny or deadly serious? When he pulls the old messing-with-you trope once too often, you start to wonder what he's all about - and you get no real satisfactory answers.
The twist is okay, but in even a decent thriller it would have been terrific. Here it's just sort of there, as if the writers had realized they needed to tack on something a little off the beaten path and just kind of shoehorned it into the story. The Matador isn't incomprehensible, it's just maddeningly incoherent.