Review by Dustin Putman
1½ stars out of 4
"After the Sunset" signals an unwillingness to grow and a lazy tendency
toward more of the same for director Brett Ratner. 1997's "Money Talks"
was a humor-heavy heist picture, while 1998's "Rush Hour" and 2001's
"Rush Hour 2" remained snugly within the confines of the buddy cop
comedy. 2002's surprisingly effective "Red Dragon," a prequel to "The
Silence of the Lambs," was apparently but a quick detour, because
here Ratner is again, making yet another heist film. Comedy, with
a propensity toward a lot of predictable banter and too many stereotypical
gay jokes for comfort, once again leads the way, this time unsuccessfully.
The only difference is that there isn't much of anything to recommend
about "After the Sunset," outside of its deceptively unconventional setup.
With most crime movies of this sort ending with the thieves riding
off into the sunset and living happily ever after on the beach, screenwriters
Paul Zbyszewski and Craig Rosenberg pose the question of what happens
next, once the final score has been done? The answer found in "After
the Sunset" is discouraging, to say the least. Instead of going off
in fresh and interesting directions, the film resorts to wearisome
cliches and a complete lack of originality.
Following their last heist, master thieves/lovers Max Burdett (Pierce
Brosnan) and Lola Cirillo (Salma Hayek) travel to an exotic island
resort to begin their peaceful retirement. Almost immediately, Max
begins to yearn for his old life, not helped by the appearance of
tireless FBI agent Stan Lloyd (Woody Harrelson), who has managed to
track them down and is set on catching them in the act. When Stan
alerts Max to the fact that the final diamond they are missing in
a series of three is setting sail on a nearby cruise ship, Max starts
making plans to pull off the steal while still eluding Stan and native
investigator Sophie (Naomie Harris). This time, however, Max will
also have to do it without the help of Lola, who makes it clear she
is finished with her life of crime and wants to settle down.
Movies like "After the Sunset," free of character depth and not clever
enough to wade from formula, make one wonder what filmmakers and actors
see in them. The genre can be done right if there is style and charisma
involved—see 2001's "Ocean's Eleven" and 2003's "The Italian Job"
for recent examples—but even the best of the lot waver the line of
disposability. The luscious cinematography by class-act Dante Spinotti
(2000's "Wonder Boys") is naturally attractive thanks to the tropical
on-location scenery, but there is no story to support it. "After the
Sunset" is content to go through the motions and, adding insult to
injury, can't even derive any suspense out of its climactic heist.
So anticlimactic is Max's steal on the cruise ship that it barely
makes an impression at all.
Pierce Brosnan, who has made a career out of this type of role with
the James Bond series, 1999's "The Thomas Crown Affair," and 2002's
slightly more substantial "The Tailor of Panama," looks understandably
bored as the boring, suave Max. As love interest Lola, Salma Hayek
(1999's "Wild Wild West") is afforded little to do but nag and plead
with Max to stay on the straight and narrow path. Far more frisky
and promising are the interactions between Woody Harrelson (2003's
"Anger Management") and Naomie Harris (2003's "28 Days Later"), making
something out of nothing as unlikely agents Stan and Sophie, who pair
up to nab Max and Lola and find themselves uncontrollably attracted
to each other. The less said about Don Cheadle (2003's "The United
States of Leland"), the better. His turn as an all-business kingpin
is virtually a cameo, and a transparent one at that.
With lame jokes abounding, a romance that gives the viewer no reason
to care about either party, and a heist so incompetently portrayed
that it renders the entire project irrelevant, "After the Sunset"
is a long slog through a pretty sea of thankless twaddle. If there
was a point to the film being made and, thus, wasting millions of
dollars in the process, director Brett Ratner must have kept such
reasons to himself. 2004's earlier heist effort, "The Big Bounce,"
a failure in its own right, suddenly seems not quite as futile. At
least that movie was offbeat. "After the Sunset" wallows in banality.
Copyright © 2004 Dustin Putman