Let's get something out of the way first – the crime caper genre is as old as Hitchcock's dinner suits. What are modern Hollywood writers and directors to do but either sketch-in original takes on the genre or "pay loving homage" through reworking classics. What is more acceptable is a debate for another time and place; in the interest of our current examination, "After the Sunset's" misfortune lies in the fact that it is neither. In fact everything about the film – with the exception of its attractive cast – is unexceptionally B-movie machinery. Used, rusted and embarrassing. Although the actors' indelible charm fulfills our basic need to be entertained, there's something very perverse about the fluid nature of the narrative, the lax pacing and the film's unenergetic disposition (noticed the different adjectives I've used to prove the same, important point?)
Eternally stereotyped as secret agent or bored millionaire-turned-thief, Pierce Brosnan plays Max Burdett, a brilliant jewel thief who, along with his sexy girlfriend and partner-in-crime, Lola (Salma Hayek cast to only purr and entice), retires to an exotic island to spend the rest of his days (and the enormous wealth he has amassed). But, on their trail is FBI agent Stan Lloyd (Woody Harrelson) still sore from the dozen of times Max has outwitted him. Strangely enough, though Stan shoots and gravely wounds Max at the start of the film, when they both meet again there is a deep affection between them. Rest easy, this is no story spoiler, only a plot convenience for the ensuing buddy comedy and desultory gags involving girlfriend problems, trouble with the local law enforcement and, but of course, homophobia. Even though the chemistry between Max and Stan is uncaringly textbook, Brosnan and Harrelson carry off their characters' poor motivations with genuine honesty. In fact their antics alone provide enough respite for anyone to forgive – on a good day - the film's many problems. "After the Sunset" has some very strong textural resemblance to the "Lethal Weapon" series where wisecracks and action all go hand-in-hand. I would have accepted "After the Sunset's" intention at face value had it stopped right there – but, no, it irresponsibly decides to categorise itself into a beloved genre. Consider this sequence: when Stan confronts Max for the first time in his beach-front mansion Max offers to lend him his rented copy of Hitchcock's classic "To Catch a Thief." This is a fatal error.
One thing I did like in the film was Don Cheadle's hilarious Kingpin. He's a self-made entrepreneur who left US shores to "emancipate" the locals of the island. Cheadle plays his character with a delicate balance that constantly veers between irony and dead-seriousness; there is a scene where he takes Max to a construction site and coolly explains his logic behind building a bustling casino over a children's hospital. Even funnier is the instance when Cheadle's character is forced to forgo "his poetry, and get down in the gutter" to prove a point. Besides the childlike shenanigans between Max and Stan, Cheadle is easily the best thing in the film and I wish we had more of him to see. - Adnan Khan