Review: ‘After the Sunset’

It wants to be an action / heist / adventure / comedy / romance, but there isn’t enough of any or all of these elements to really make the film work as advertised.

Max Burdett (Pierce Brosnan) is a jewel thief (surprise, surprise) and Lola Cirillo (Salma Hayek) is his partner in crime. The pair have made a special point of needling Agent Stan Lloyd (Woody Harrelson) and making him look foolish while stealing two of the world’s three Napoleon diamonds. Now retired, Max and Lola find solace on Paradise Island in the Bahamas (and a free plug for its Atlantis resort), but Stan has followed them intent on catching them stealing the last Napoleon diamond that just happens to be on a cruise ship docked nearby. Is it all a setup? Who’s really playing whom? Will love survive one more heist? Could this film have made less sense?

From the highly questionable technical abilities of Pierce Brosnan piloting yet another remote control car using his PDA (saw that already in Tomorrow Never Dies) to the less-than-probable abilities of Woody Harrelson as an FBI agent, the end result is, well, crap. After two successful showings by director Brett Ratner with Rush Hour, this formula film just doesn’t seem to work by typecasting characters and pretending they all had some secret plan for getting up on one another. The plot is one red herring after another that leads up to the silliest ending conceivable; how far would you really let someone get away with your multi-million dollar diamond if you could actually do anything to prevent it? There’s too much comedy to take it seriously yet too much bloodshed not to want to.

To the film’s credit is the casting of Salma Hayek. The camera loves her, her directors love her, and practically everyone else on the planet loves her, too. Fans of Ms. Hayek will be happy to see how gratuitous every single frame of her is in the film, whether she’s bent over building a deck in loose coveralls or pulling Pierce Brosnan on top of herself with only a snakeskin bikini to protect her virtue. The story, however, only uses her as a foil to keep the film from looking too much like a mismatched buddy flick between Woody and Pierce, which is kind of a shame because that’s where the film worked the best and what Ratner excels at. Even Naomie Harris as a local constable seems to be merely a prop to keep Woody’s character occupied so Pierce can have another heart-wrenching scene making the wrong choice with Salma.

Fans of Salma Hayek will likely enjoy the film. Fans of Pierce Brosnan will likely enjoy the film. Fans of Woody Harrelson may even enjoy the film. Fans of highly-charged high-tech heist films set in exotic locations where all the characters are sly enough to have their double-crosses planned out since the first meeting will loathe this film and everything it pretends to be (remember Entrapment?) Don’t be fooled; this isn’t the heist film you’re looking for.

(a one and a half skull recommendation out of four)

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