random reviews, recollections & reminiscings

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

DVD REVIEW: After The Sunset (2004) ***

After the Sunset (2004) big poster
PG-13 (for sexuality, violence and language)
1 hr. 40 min.
written by: Paul Zbyszewski
produced by: Beau Flynn, Jay Stern, & Tripp Vinson
directed by: Brett Ratner

Yeah, so I'm trying to get caught up on some movie watching lately. Here's a movie that I didn't really have an interest to go see in the theaters, so I figured I'd get around to it in the comfort of my own home. That I did.

When Roger Ebert reviewed this film back in November of 2004 he wrote that there was much about the movie that was unbelievable. Well, yeah, sure there is. It's a heist movie mostly set in the sun-soaked Virgin Islands, it's gonna have a sense of disbelief. This is one of those typical "one-more-job" movies about a coupla thick as romantic jewel thieves Max (Pierce Brosnan) and Lola (Salma Hayek) and the obsessed FBI agent Lloyd (Woody Harrelson) who has routinely failed in capturing them. It's a simple movie with a simple plot and pleasures that is barely saved actors that seem like there are having a great time (and who wouldn't in a film shoot in the Virgin Islands).
It all starts out with a diamond heist in Los Angeles by Max and Lola that is supposedly to be their "last" and would see them retiring in St. Lucia. After what is indeed a successful albeit assault-of-our-common-sense steal from agent Lloyd, we then see itchy Max trying to assimilate to his new life of paradise. Beautiful woman. Sun. Lobster. Plenty of Money. Nice car. Nice beachfront home. How hard could that be to get used to? Well, once a thief always a thief. Just as Max starts to get itchy Agent Lloyd shows up in his home, sitting in his comfy chair and drinking his pricey cognac.

It seems that there's a big cruise liner named the "Diamond Cruise" that's docked on the island for several days and Lloyd wants to make sure Max knows he knows why he's really there. Yes, there's a special diamond on that ship. Thus begins the cat-and-mouse games between the the three of them. Which was actually quite entertaining. Its was fun to see Brosnan and Harrelson together pseudo-bonding (to the point of being caught in bed together) in a kinda "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" kinda feel.

It was especially fun to see a nod to Spielberg when Max and Agent Lloyd return drunk from fishing singing,"Show Me the Way to Go Home," a song from the infamous drunken sing-a-long-at-sea in "Jaws". Yet, it was not cool to see a classic romantic "nursing wound" scene from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" literally replicated here. Hey, Ratner, there's homage and then there's stealing! Still, Ratner did a great job directing the debut episode of the new "Prison Break" series on Fox that premiered this past fall. His next gig is filling the shoes of Brian Singer in "X-Men 3" which makes me a lil nervous.

There are other characters added to the story with the intention to bring more to the overall plot. But like the other characters, the actors turn out to be more interesting than the characters. A decent subplot is added that involves local crime boss kingpin Robert Moor'e (Don Cheadle) and local police officer Sophie (Naomie Harris). I Iiked Harris as the feisty officer who can hold her own when she reluctantly teams up with Lloyd as he trails Max to make sure that the aforementioned diamond stays on that cruise ship. Cheadle gets involved when he asks Max to steal the diamond for him saying it would be economically good for the island (uh huh). For the short amount of time he has, Cheadle of course shines in this role.

Brosnan has been good at slowly moving outta the Bond limelight by taking roles like Max and his roles in "Thomas Crown" and "Tailor of Panama" that are "spy- similar". I don't think he's gonna stick to this pattern cuz of his roles in "Evelyn" and his upcoming film "The Matador", but then again he is scheduled to do a sequel to "Thomas Crown". Ah well, he was the best Bond since Connery and he's good in these suave spy/thief roles.

The movie is well-paced, well-acted, & well-directed by Ratner (Rush Hour, Red Dragon) but it could be the standard "cat-and-mouse" plot that doesn't make me rate this any higher. It does suffer a lil from the implausible twist ending but then again it began with an implausible scene as well. So, wuddya want? If ya like these actors already and ya wanna tour of the Virgin Islands....then here's yer flick! Would it not be for the talented cast, I woulda given it two stars.

NOTE: I found it interesting & impressive that both this movie and "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" were composed and scored by music veteran Lalo Shifrin (he did the original infamous "Mission Impossible" TV theme along with over 200 film and TV scores). Pretty cool for a 73 year old dude from Buenos Aires!

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