After the Sunset

written by Paul Zbyszewski

directed by Brett Ratner

starring Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, and Woody Harrelson


review by Stephen Notley

Nobody would go into After the Sunset expecting too much, really. It's got star power, sure, but Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek and Woody Harrelson don't exactly leap into the mind as a natural salt/vinegar/chips-type combo. And the premise, a jewel heist-y thing set on a tropical island, doesn't exactly scream "Compelling!" at the top of what would be its lungs if it was a person rather than an idea.

Still, After the Sunset isn't *too* bad, really. The basic idea is that Pierce Brosnan is a jewel thief who retires to a tropical paradise with his girlfriend Salma Hayek after he embarrasses FBI agent Woody Harrelson with a slick heist. Well, sorta slick; Salma, pretending to be a homeless window-washer scans the FBI van's secure-o-code and feeds it to Pierce who uses a remote control to seize control of the van with Woody trapped inside. Since when did they start building vans with hijackable remote controls?

Anyway, Pierce and Salma take their score and split to buy the nice place in the Caribbean jewel thieves in movies are always talking about and too busy doing "one last job" to ever actually go buy. Hence "After the Sunset", see; they really do leave their jewel-heisting behind and now they're just relaxing. They drink fruity drinks on the beach, they kiss a lot, they take long naps in the bathtub.

And that's how the movie is: relaxing. It's got a very loose, on-vacation feel to it, similar to The Big Bounce with Owen Wilson from about a year ago.  It's not exactly a comedy but it might as well be; even as Pierce begins to get the itch to steal another diamond and Woody shows up to catch Pierce once and for all, there's not a lot of tension or stakes. The biggest dramatic problem is that Salma is getting a bit impatient for Pierce to write his wedding vows.

So what's on offer in this movie then? Well, we've got a rather awkward would-be buddy relationship between Pierce and Woody, the core of which is a scene where they fish together and rub suntan lotion on each other's backs. Best not to think about that part.

Much more enjoyable is the movie's committed passion to showing us Salma Hayek in as many different beach-and-swimsuit ensembles as possible. Having made the point with Frida that she's a serious artist with ideas Salma has evidently decided it's okay to do a couple of movies where she just looks super hot all the time. Good for her.

Pierce, for his part, is kinda scraggly and unreadable, while Woody does the same kind of lunk-jawed thing that worked on Cheers and in Palmetto, a sweaty little New Orleans caper few saw. Don Cheadle, fabulous on TV's Picket Fences but never quite as good in any of his movies, sorta shows up a couple of times as putative and largely unnecessary bad guy "I place the thing on the E" More' [ed note: place the thing on the e in More, the accent ague or whatever it's called], while unknown Naomie Harris attracts notice as a rasta-talking local cop who falls into bed with Woody for no better reason to expose her underwear to the audience.

Not exactly brilliant, but time-passing enough. And that what this movie is. Some cute girls, some minor capering, a little joystick-style car-driving, a touch of scuba diving… it's a holiday. Not much, but if you're looking to take your mind off things, looking for a couple of hours of escape, After the Sunset provides it.

 But only if you've already seen The Incredibles twice.