Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson, Don Cheadle, Naomie Harris, Chris Penn, Russell Hornsby, Troy Garity
Written by: Paul Zbyszewski, Craig Rosenberg
Directed by: Brett Ratner
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexuality, violence and language
Running Time: 93
Date: 11/10/2004
IMDB

After the Sunset (2004)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Diamond Hogs

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Some music video directors come to feature films with anexcess of style and very little sense of plot or pacing. Brett Ratner came tofeature films with absolutely no style, no personality and no sense ofanything.

His last four films (Rush Hour 1-2, The Family Man, Red Dragon) were all terrible wastes of talented actors and pure examples of misdirected energy. They were not only forgettable, but also aggravating.

Finally, he has made a film that rises above mediocrity, though we can probably credit its mild, inoffensive pleasures more to chance than to Ratner's skill.

In After the Sunset, two successful diamond thieves, Max (Pierce Brosnan) and Lola (Salma Hayek), pull of one last job and retire to the Caribbean, planning to marry and spend their lives together. But a jaded FBI man, Stan (Woody Harrelson), who has been on their trail for years, arrives to deter them from stealing the "final Napoleon diamond," which is currently on exhibit on a cruise ship.

A local gangster (Don Cheadle) tries to tempt Max into stealing the gem, and Max spends the entire film trying to resist, aided by the fact that his fiery fiancée will kill him if he even goes near it.

Happily, the film avoids that "one last job" clich�, and it also cooks up a fairly unconventional villain in Stan. He follows my personal rule that a strong bad guy should be able to sit down for drinks with the hero. Even so, Harrelson's portrayal falls into self-consciousness and fails to transcend the wobbly script, written by first-timers Paul Zbyszewski and Craig Rosenberg.

The movie is at its best when Brosnan and Hayek are on screen together. They have a marvelous chemistry based on adoration and respect, which tends to give the movie an injection of life, in spite of Ratner's nonexistent direction. It helps that both stars have a considerable swoon appeal. They're both dressed and photographed for maximum sexiness that both male and female audiences will be able to appreciate.

But whenever the movie turns itself to plot matters, such as characters breaking into ships and shimmying through air conditioning ducts, the film lags and turns into one of those straight-to-video capers. Ratner has no idea how to balance the energy between the two kinds of scenes.

However, because the movie does occasionally light a spark, it is guaranteed a short shelf life as a bargain-bin video rental, an airplane movie or a late-night cable show.

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