Friday, December 10, 2004


(Film Review)
by Reymundo Salao
Oftentimes Disturbing

Just as the chilling coldness of December has greeted us (especially with last week's sad news about the storm), there's the film AFTER THE SUNSET to warm us up. This movie directed by Bret Ratner (of "Rush Hour" and "Red Dragon") and stars Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, and Woody Harrelson, is set on a sunny Caribbean holiday spot where a sly game of cat-and-mouse ensues between an FBI Agent a and Professional Thief.

The film follows the story of Max Burdett and Lola Cirillo, both master-thieves, partners-in-crime, and romantic protagonists, who have decided to "retire" from the life of crime, to a tropical-paradise-of an island. But their romance seems to be threatened when Lola suspects Max of cheating. Not with another woman, but with a priceless diamond that has caught Max's attention. Fully aware that Max cannot resist the temptation of stealing the diamond, FBI Agent Stanley P. Lloyd gets in a playful game of cat-and-mouse, to try and catch the retired thief on the act. While on the island, he teams up with a local police officer Sophie played by Naomi Harris, whose femme fetale has caught Stanley's eye. While Max secretly plots to steal the diamond, Lola has felt great disappointment on her lover and plans to leave him for good. Now Max must figure out if he'll just abandon his great heist for the love of her woman.

At first, I was quick to put my faith on other reviews of this film, among them, a BBC film review which thought of this film as not to have offered "anything new". Sure, we may have already seen the Mission: Impossible high-tech theft scene, or the suave Bond-like master-thief, since "The Thomas Crown Affair" remake (also with Brosnan). But what was magnificent about the movie was its energy. It was a film that is full of life. If I may describe with a bit more clarity, an adult person's Walt Disney film. And adults will truly feel alive with the entire look of the film. Tropical, radiant and colorful. Beaches all around, sunshine, scenes as lovely as a holiday postcard and a coffeehouse painting. Very exotic. And for the guys; there's Salma Hayek. There may be no breast exposure on this movie, but there is a lot of boobs-exposures (if you dig my language. Read: Melons)

Maybe it is hard to shake off that James Bond image to pursue other roles, but Pierce Brosnan easily shook off his Bond image with his role on this film as a thief who surely is monogamous, and if he ever does cheat, it's with a priceless Napoleonic Diamond. It also may be the rugged unshaved look he is sporting on this movie, but I believe it's his performance, reminding us that Brosnan has already had that respected reputation as an actor even before he stepped in the Bond shoes. Salma Hayek, who plays Lola, Max's girlfriend, is never belittled as mere babe-wallpaper for the guy audience to just ogle. She plays the character who yearns to just settle down and move on away from the life of crime, and into just a simple life with the man she loves. And she does it very well. After the first minutes of the film after reviving male eyes of all the ogling, her performance grabs you into seeing the sincerity in her character having that desire to never look back to the life of stealing and just being regular people from now on. The film also stars Don Cheadle who plays a villain on this movie, you may have seen him in varied roles on films such as Ocean's Eleven, Swordfish, and Traffic. And then there's Woody Harrelson, whose dignified film credits include the controversial movie The People versus Larry Flynt and Natural Born Killers. He provides almost 90 percent of the film's humor, for his character is defeatingly funny, in a very "Wily E. Coyote" manner. The "cop-vs-thief" theme of this movie can be a modernized comparison of the old Pink Panther movies that we used to watch in late 80's Channel 12. With the character of Harrelson having resemblances to Inspector Clueseau, and Brosnan's to the Pink Panther thief. But more than that, AFTER THE SUNSET is also a romantic comedy and has its share of hilarious scenes that had made me laugh out loud inside the theater.

AFTER THE SUNSET is very enjoyable and full of bursting colors. It may be a great date movie and also a barkada movie. If you wanna take that short break from the chill of December, this is one film that feels like a cool trip to paradise.

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