Thursday, April 14, 2005

After the Sunset

I really enjoy a sub-genre of films: heist movies, where the plot revolves around stealing something. For example, The Italian Job, Ocean's Eleven, The Thomas Crown Affair, and of course The Heist. Interestingly, the first three of the movies I listed are all remakes!

Part of what I want is a good plot where the double-cross or twist is a bit of a surprise - hinted at and finally revealed, but definitely not a "solve the plot hole" turn of event. Ocean's Twelve suffered this problem, where at the end it was revealed most of the movie was in fact an elaborate going-through-the-motions hoax as the theft occured off-screen way before most of the plot we saw.

Other problems include movies that have too many double-crosses, like Entrapment. Actually, that movie had other major believability problems which dwarfed the double double-cross ending.

So I was eager to watch After the Sunset, which made it to the top of my Netflix queue. The setup is Pierce Brosnan (Max) and Salma Hayek (Lola) are master thieves, never caught during their career. They pull of a diamond heist which humiliates Woody Harrelson (Stan), and then retire to some exotic tropical island. Months later Stan pays an unofficial visit because another diamond is on display on a cruise ship currently docked... Stan just knows Max can't resist trying to steal it. Max doesn't want to involve Lola, so he works with a local gangster, Henri, played by Don Cheadle.

Stan has a love interest, a local police officer, Sophie (Naomie Harris), a romance which I think was forced into the plot to balance Max and Lola. Stan and Sophie were good for possibly two laughs altogether. The movie also builds up a friendly rivalry between Max and Stan (who wants to redeem his earlier failure) as they bond while drinking, fishing, and spending some time together.

Salma Hayek's character doesn't do much in this movie except plead with Max to give up thievery and enjoy their retirement. Ultimately, Max engineers a heist with an alibi involving Lola, Stan, and Sophie. He also double crosses Henri the gangster, and makes it up to Lola by marrying her (technically, he finally writes wedding vows). At the end it seems Stan was a step ahead, and finally catches Max, but the ending shows Max has the last laugh as he steals the diamond back a similar way the movie started with.

Overall, this was a mediocre heist movie. Lola didn't really have much of a role in the plot, and the romance between Stan and Sophie wasn't very believable. However, the rivalry between Stan and Max was done a little better. The heist itself took place quickly towards the end, and we didn't get to see much of the setup. Still, I did basically enjoy the movie.

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