Blu-Ray Review – After The Sunset

I wrote about this film about over ten years ago and on repeated viewing my thoughts remain the same. Thus from my original DVD review of the film:

There are some movies that have all the makings of an instant classic, yet somehow manage to drop the ball so effortlessly that it can boggle the mind. A good story, good cast, a nice selection of music selected from the past 20 years or so, a great setting, nice scenery and a message that can connect with a lot of folks are generally good signs that you have a great movie on hand, and yet somehow there is that special piece of cinema that just drops the ball so easily that it is mind-boggling.

After the Sunset is that movie. With Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson and recent Oscar-nominee Don Cheadle on hand it’s hard to figure out just how a director can see this wealth of talent and find a way to make a mess of a movie of it.

Brosnan plays Max Burdett, a jewel thief who gets the rarest of the rare in movie criminal life: retirement. Max and his girlfriend Lola (Salma Hayek) have stolen the 2nd of the fabled “Napoleon” diamonds and have opted for retirement in paradise. Too bad paradise isn’t all it cracked up to be for Max, as he has to deal with boredom and then opportunity strikes. The vaunted 3rd Napoleon diamond comes into town on a cruise ship, bringing with it Max’s nemesis Stan Lloyd (Harrelson) and local gangster Henri Moree (Cheadle).

Stan is still smarting from the previous heist, as Burdett snaked the diamond from his grasp despite all his best intentions, and is pursuing Max in an attempt to catch him in the act of theft. Moree wants the diamond and wants Max to steal it for him. Max also has to fight his own urges to steal the thing with Lola’s attempts to keep him on the straight and narrow path. This is more of a great concept on paper than it is in this cinematic execution. It can inspire a lot of deep talk, like the notion that retirement after a brilliant career possible. I can imagine Michael Jordan thought a lot on the same kind of lines when he left the Bulls the second time, asking himself “Can you retire at the peak of your game and not want one more crack at the limelight?”

Unfortunately, much like Jordan’s attempted career revival with the Wizards, this movie falls far short.

Brosnan and the gang do give good performances and it well acted, but the movie is lacking a strong hook that draws you in due in part to the muddled attempt at telling the story. It feels very incomplete as we are only given bits and pieces of it to draw from as they bury a lot of the plot and character development away.

Brosnan is a good thief, charming and oozing his usual charisma, but not sympathetic or noteworthy. The movie never paints his inability to get over being retired as anything other than pathetic. The key to telling this story comes from the supporting cast (mainly Harrelson and Hayek) and its’ influence on Max, and in both cases the movie makes them absolutely irrelevant to the story.

Salma Hayek’s only excuse for being on screen, it seems, is to either show her cleavage or otherwise prance around in some combination of bra & panties or a barely covering swimsuit. Her neckline is her character’s only defining characteristic throughout the movie.

Hayek is an absolutely stunning woman but it’s nearly criminal that they found nothing more to do with her than have her model skimpy clothing. Besides being a talented actress, she is also a vital part of the story. She is the reason Max should be on the path of the straight and narrow if only because she’s embraced retirement with him. Hayek’s Lola is just used another beautiful piece of the scenery. She really isn’t given much to do besides look cute when she should be doing more.

Harrelson wasn’t given anything to do besides wander around like a clueless moron. It felt like he was being “Woody” from Cheers more than Max’s nemesis, a top FBI agent whose been constantly thwarted. Stan is there to be the devil on Max’s shoulder to Hayek’s angel, the one to push him over the edge and back into the crime game, and yet his only purpose in the movie seems to fall for an increasingly ridiculous set of gags and pranks from Max. If he’s smart enough to be able to track him down from the states to his newfound tropical paradise it follows that he should be much smarter than what he exhibits. It takes a lot of the gravity out of the whole plot as it becomes less and less plausible the more and more Stan falls for seemingly bone-headed traps and pratfalls devised by Max.

The whole crux of the situation, Max and his attempts at remaining retired despite the finishing touches of his criminal escapade staring him in the face (as well as his biggest rival daring him to do it) seems less important than what semi-comical situation can happen next. The story itself is almost an afterthought for major portions of the movie; we are given a series of wholly unbelievable situations and contexts that defy any sort of reason or logical premise. The movie is too concerned with the aesthetic, too pre-occupied with which plunging neckline it can show or off-color innuendo it can make than with telling an easily-relatable message.

The extras are the same from the original DVD release .

If you waited for this to be on Blu-Ray and never picked up the original on DVD, or you want to upgrade the a/v, then this’ll be in a discount bin sooner than later.

Warner Bros. presents After the Sunset. Directed by Brett Ratner. Written by Paul Zbyszewski and Craig Rosenberg. Starring Selma Hayek, Pierce Brosnan, Woody Harrelson. Run Time: 97 minutes Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: 4-7-2015

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