"After the Sunset" is a heist flick in which the audience is left out of the best part -- the logistics of the heist. Whose dumb idea was that?
Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek play an ace diamond-snatching couple who begin the film by pulling off their genre-traditional One Last Big Score, swiping a multi-million-dollar rock from an armored FBI transport -- and that scene is actually crackling with creative how-they-done-it details (unlike the rest of the movie), even if the circumstances themselves make no sense. Why would the FBI be transporting a diamond?
After that, they retire to live a quiet life of sunsets on the beach and piña coladas in a Jamaican resort town. The two talented stars take great joy in giving this criminal couple a sexy playfulness that goes beyond the fact that neither of them wears much once the action shifts to the Caribbean. But almost as soon as Brosnan's old FBI nemesis (Woody Harrelson) turns up -- hoping to lure the thief back into the heist life so the lawman can make the big bust that has always eluded him -- the movie springs a leak and begins a slow and torturous sinking.
There's a good concept for a snappy thriller in here somewhere, but director Brett Ratner (the flaccid "Rush Hour" action-comedies) sure can't find it. He saddles Harrelson with slapstick comic relief and an entirely unbelievable (and exposition-filled) romantic subplot with a curvy, confident Jamaican cop (Naomie Harris from "28 Days Later," doing a pretty shaky Rasta accent). He offers up lowbrow laughs instead of sophisticated intrigue, and he's far more interested in maximizing Hayek's bikini time than he is in making sure his story holds together.
Hints of classic heist-movie cleverness surface throughout "Sunset" too -- as when Brosnan phones Harrelson to tell him exactly how he would hit the cruise ship, hoping to curtail his own temptation by knowing he'd now get caught if he tried it. But for every moment like that, there's a ridiculous contrivance, like the temptation itself -- a cruise ship is in town with some high-security museum on board (?!?) that includes a famous diamond.
The worst of it is the fact that when Brosnan does give in to temptation (I'm not spoiling anything here -- there'd be no movie if he didn't), the audience isn't privy to how he goes about pulling it off. One minute he's under the water in scuba gear, and the next he's above the diamond's display case in one of those Hollywood air ducts, oversized and reinforced to conveniently accommodate a 180-lb. man. Adding to the absurdity, this scene takes place during an impossibly long night that also sees the characters go to dinner then coral-reef diving for a couple hours (at night?!); plus the heist and getaway; plus a shooting at Brosnan's house, an investigation and a clean-up; and no less than three fights between Brosnan and Hayek, complete with bag-packing and storming out of the house -- all in a few hours of darkness.
Follow that with an auto-pilot last-act apology scene and throw in a few more far-fetched coincidences -- Brosnan just happens to come across genre clichés like a Carnival parade (good for diving into to ditch pursuing cops) and a costume ball (good for blending into after stealing diamonds) -- and you've got a formulaic heist movie that loses every little spark it had going for it, even the chemistry between Brosnan and Hayek, who weren't exactly Cary Grant and Grace Kelly to begin with.
And Brett Ratner is certainly no Alfred Hitchcock. So skip "After the Sunset" and do what Brosnan's character does: Stay home and rent "To Catch a Thief," the most clever, thrilling, amusing movie ever made about a retired jewel thief getting more action than he bargained for.
Run time: 97 mins
In Theaters: Friday 12th November 2004
Box Office USA: $28.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $61.3M
Distributed by: New Line Cinema
Production compaines: New Line Cinema, Contrafilm, Firm Films
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 18%
Fresh: 25 Rotten: 114
IMDB: 6.3 / 10
Director: Brett Ratner
Starring: Pierce Brosnan as Max Burdett, Salma Hayek as Lola Cirillo, Woody Harrelson as Stan Lloyd, Troy Garity as Luc, Russell Hornsby as Jean-Paul, Rex Linn as Agent Kowalski, Michael Bowen as FBI Driver, Mark Moses as Lakers FBI Agent, Chris Penn as Rowdy Fan, Obba Babatunde as Zacharias, Gianni Russo as Clippers Fan, Don Cheadle as Henri Mooré, Tony Ledard as Referee, Shaquille O'Neal as Himself, Naomie Harris as Sophie, Andrew Fiscella as Popcorn Victim, Karl Malone as Himself, Gary Payton as Himself, Mykelti Williamson as Agent Stafford, Alan Dale as Security Chief, Robert Curtis Brown as Lakers FBI Agent
Also starring: Jeff Garlin
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