Having already stolen two from the set of three priceless Napoleon Diamonds, expert jewel thief Max Burdett (Pierce Brosnan) decides to retire on a tropical island with his girlfriend and partner-in-crime, Lola (Salma Hayek). Fate intervenes, however, when Max discovers the third and final diamond is sitting on a docked cruise ship on his very island. It should be a simple job, but FBI agent Stan Lloyd (Woody Harrelson) shows up to make sure Max doesn't get any ideas.
"Give me a Jack on the rocks. It doesn't have a fancy name, but if it was good enough for Frank, it's good enough for me"
There was a weird period in movies about ten or so years ago, not too long after Pierce Brosnan donned his James Bond Super-Tuxedo for the last time. Good reliable Pierce, naturally exhausted from making big action movies decided he needed a rest in warmer climates and went on vacation to the Caribbean. The only problem is Hollywood decided to follow him and made 'After The Sunset' and 'The Matador' in the process. Neither film did well at the box office, but it looks like Pierce had a good time on his paid vacation.
Max Burdett, Pierce Brosnan, and his wife Lola, Salma Hayek, are career jewel thieves. Well known to the FBI, in particular Agent Stan Lloyd, Woody Harrelson, they have yet to actually be caught in the act or with any actual physical evidence on their person making their arrest and prosecution for their crimes impossible. After a crafty bit of tactical misdirection and technological prowess, Max and Lola make off with a gigantic mother of a diamond leaving Agent Lloyd holding the empty bag.
Flash forward six months and Max and Lola have made quite the home for themselves on the island resort of Atlantis, basking in the Caribbean sunshine. The only problem is they're bored. Lola jumps from hobby to hobby while Max is content to sip a whiskey on the rocks while sitting on the beach. It isn't long before the tenacious Agent Lloyd shows up. Granted, the two thieves have been retired and out of the scene for nearly a year, but Lloyd knows Max very well and he knows the temptation of an exotic cruise ship that also happens to be carrying the world's most expensive diamond is a bit too much to resist.
As much as Max keeps saying he's retired, the allure of the gigantic gem stone is aways in the back of his mind. The only problem is the diamond may as well be housed in Ft. Knox with the security measures in place and the armed guards on hand. Max professes the heist to be impossible, but Lloyd doesn't buy the act and neither does Lola. Adding to Max's troubles is local "businessman" Henri Mooré, Don Cheadle, who gained his fortune in his own less than legal way. Henri demands Max nab the diamond for him or face lethal consequences. How is Max going to make off with the world's most heavily protected diamond with a disbelieving wife, an FBI agent, and a local gangster watching over his shoulder at all times?
I'm not exactly a "Brett Ratner Hater," but I'm hardly a fan either. I remember enjoying 'Money Talks,' and 'Rush Hour 1 & 2' but I always felt he was well out of his league helming 'Red Dragon.' With 'After The Sunset' Ratner just seems to be more interested in showing Salma Hayek in skimpy clothing than crafting a halfway decent heist thriller comedy. The cast is there with Brosnan, Hayek, and Harrelson all looking like they're having a fun time and giving it their all - but at the same time, something just feels fake about the whole thing. Very "going through the motions." It's almost as if the people behind this movie watched the 'Ocean's 11' remake and asked themselves "can we remake this movie again but on a beach so I can work on my tan?"
The problem with this cookie cutter approach is that it doesn't exactly work as a heist movie and it doesn't exactly work as a action-comedy either. It's not like you can't mix these genres together, you can, but you have to follow the recipe exactly. If you just look at the list of ingredients and don't measure properly you get a flat, flavorless mess. That is basically how 'After The Sunset' turned out. It's edible, but not something you'd ask for seconds of. Watch David Mamet's 'Heist,' or Frank Oz's 'The Score.' Those are heist movies done right. The notion of proper setup, build to, and pay off were tossed out the window for this movie and instead were replaced with "actors having fun on luxurious island resort." It isn't like you can't have fun with a heist movie, but when you dedicate 10 minutes of screen time so two of your leads can go fishing and the only point to the whole scene in the end is a homophobic joke, a hit to the crotch and shark being shot while being told it has the riht to remail silent - then you're trying too hard to have "fun" and your heist story is dying the slow death of boredom.
Heist movies are kind of like Agatha Christie murder mysteries. All of the seeds of suspicion and twists and turns need to be peppered into the picture just enough that you keep them in mind, but don't focus on them. With 'After The Sunset,' things are just far too on the nose to make the journey worthwhile. Heist movies by nature, whether funny or serious, demand that you pay attention. But if you pay too much attention to 'After The Sunset' you can see the setups coming from a mile off shore and it stops being fun. And then the heist itself isn't that thrilling or interesting. For a famed jewel thief, Max doesn't really display a whole lot of skill or ingenuity.
By the time the movie gets to its big twist revelation, the gas tank has long been running on fumes. I wont spoil anything, even when it's a movie I didn't enjoy I can't bring myself to do that, but suffice to say the grand finale is more than a little lame and ultimately makes everything we just saw pointless. It just feels like they didn't have a clear thought out ending to this movie figured out. Perhaps it was a victim of bad screen tests and this was the salvage ending? Either way, it was the irritating conclusion to a frustrating movie that at 97 minutes already felt way too long and overstuffed. Heading into this review I was kind of amazed to see that this movie had only snagged an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. While I don't think it's necessarily that bad, it does wind up being a rather tame outing for such a great cast.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'After the Sunset' arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Warner Bros. pressed on a BD50 disc. Housed in a standard Blu-ray case, the disc opens to the main menu that features a static image with the film's score from Lalo Schifrin playing.
'After The Sunset' is at least a pretty looking movie and this 2.4:1 1080p HD presentation does the movie justice. Detail levels are strong helping to create a pleasing image with fine grain retained and no apparent digital smoothing employed. Colors have a wonderful pop here as the primaries get a great work out with the scenic caribbean locations on display. Blues, reds, oranges, and greens get a lot of work in this transfer and they're glorious. Black levels and contrast look to be just right, not too oppressively dark while not being too bright. As strong over all as this transfer is, there are some hints of compression artifacts, the image can look a little crunchy with some slight ringing in places. Banding doesn't appear to be much of a problem, but every now and again Pierce Brosnan's beard stubble can have an odd shimmer at times. In spite of this, this is an all around strong transfer.
'After the Sunset' has a strong DTS-HD MA 5.1 track to complement all of the beach and luxury island resort sounds. Levels are strong throughout keeping to the midranges letting the dialogue, score, and abundant sound effects have plenty of air around them. For the most part it feels like the majority of the audio keeps to the center channels, but during livelier scenes there is plenty of imaging as sound effects move about the scenes and make solid use of the surround channels. I may not like the movie, but this track offers a delicious Lalo Schifrin score to enjoy in full Master Audio glory so it can't be all bad!
Audio Commentary: Brett Ratner, Beau Flynn, and Mark Helfrich sit down to jibber jabber about the production and how much fun it was while spending an uncomfortable amount of time talking about Salma Hayek's body.
Before, During, and After The Sunset: (SD 1:10:23) Ported over from the DVD, this is an exhaustive behind the scenes documentary charting the entire course of the production.
Interview With A Jewel Thief: (SD 8:08) This is a mini interview with Brett Ratner talking acclaimed jewel thief and author Bill Mason.
Charlie Rose Show with Brett Ratner, Salma Hayek, Pierce Brosnan, and Woody Harrelson: (SD 18:25) It's a fun little bit of press promotional material, but again, Brett Ratner is a little too preoccupied talking about Hayek's body at times and you can feel how uncomfortable Salma and the rest of the cast gets during these moments.
Deleted Scenes: (HD 16:48) This collection of scenes has an optional commentary with Brett Ratner, Beau Flynn, and Mark Helfrich. They're less deleted scenes than scene extensions that trimmed only a piece or two of dialogue.
Blooper Reel: (HD 4:51) They could be genuine, but they feel kind of rehearsed at times.
Special Effects Comparison: (HD 3:18) little scenes that have been digitally altered to achieve a desired visual effect.
Max and Lola Pretend to Make Love for Stan's Bug: (HD 1:25) This is a single take scene of the prank.
A Practical Joke Ratner Played On Brosnan: (HD 0:44) This would have actually been funny if it didn't have Ratner's commentary over it - again, the guy makes things uncomfortable.
Trailer: (HD 2:32) A solid trailer that makes the movie look fun and exciting.
I am one of those guys who appreciates the fact that one movie can't appeal to everyone, there's always someone who doesn't like a movie and there's always someone that loves a movie. I didn't like 'After The Sunset' all that much. Maybe I'm too far removed from the original theatrical release or something, but I found this movie to be too trite and tedious for what it tried to accomplish. I know there are many out there who dig this flick and what Ratner and his cast pulled together, so on that end fans should be very pleased with this Blu-ray presentation. The picture quality is strong, the audio is lively, and the extra features plentiful. If you're like me and this Blu-ray is your first time out with the movie, give it a rent first, it's tough to recommend for a blind buy.