After The Sunset
Not all eyes will weep for Pierce Brosnan… needled into the James Bond franchise as he is, the engaging actor has had a terrible time diversifying his filmography, but he is also ensured a place in film history thanks to the iconic role. His 1999 appearance in “The Thomas Crown Affair” may be the only exception to the sans-Bond flop-a-rama. Regretfully, “After the Sunset” fails to assist in any re-alignment: here he is still packing a gun and cracking jokes despite being on the other side of the law. Nor will co-stars Salma Hayek and Woody Harrelson, neither of whom has been able to consistently deliver box-office distinction, benefit from the movie’s lackluster, repetitive plotting.
The film follows the high-stakes thievery of Max Burdett (Brosnan) and lover/accomplice Lola (Hayek) as they attempt to steal a series of precious diamonds. Alternatively on Burdett’s tail, at his dinner table and even in his bed is FBI agent Stan (Woody Harrelson). The capers lead the three to the Bahamas, where Max and Lola have determined to retire… or have they?
The plot as described is barely adequate to derive a sense of espionage, never mind mystery, never mind audience interest. What’s most interesting in the play is the determined attempt of Max and Lola to actually retire; and when trouble comes calling in the form of great opportunity, the emotional struggles each must face. But little ultimately is made of the subject outside the stresses of their relationship, and so while Max chases his, the film’s great opportunity slides right by unexplored. Even as the film resolves predictably to its tension-drained climax, you’ll wonder if “After the Sunset” was born a cowardly Hollywood engine, or whether it was slowly degraded by the studios, stars and producers to its current state.
Not all is a snore, however. The pacing of the film is really spot-on, and Brosnan actually delivers the gritty, nearly washed-up Max with a dramatic sense of aging desperation – as if Max refuses retirement out of fear of it. But Hayek fails to follow through with Lola’s subtext; arguably, Lola’s capricious grab for retirement should be filled with youthful glee. The outer surface of that intent is written into the script, but the payoff that should have derived from the two points of view never materialized in the script… or on film.
In the end, “After the Sunset” will please those audience members who cheered at “The Thomas Crown Affair” and don’t particularly care that this film is a genre reproduction of the feeblest sort. It will make you laugh, and perhaps even engage suspense… but in the end, you’ll still feel like you were promised a diamond; and after deft purloining, are left with a cubic zirconia.