Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson
2 out of 10 stars
A glorified infomercial for the Bahamas, After the Sunset is one of those movies that has absolutely nothing to do with plot and everything to do with getting its cast and crew into a tropical location for a sun-soaked vacation that only tangentially involves making a movie. Your heart goes out to poor stars Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek, who obviously had to take time out from their tanning schedules in order to shoot some haphazard scenes before going back to downing fruity umbrella drinks and cavorting on the beach. Nobody involved seems to be too concerned with the plot machinations of this supposed caper flick, which is so tired and so hackneyed it seems to have been banged out while someone was writing vacation postcards. You know a heist flick is really reaching when it resorts to overt mentions of To Catch a Thief in order to muster up some kind of, well, to-catch-a-thief patina.
Working not so much from a script as a blueprint – or even, more likely, a fill-in-the-blank flow chart – After the Sunset limps from scene to scene as it follows Max Burdett (Brosnan, wearing a nametag that says "Hello! My Name Is Suave Diamond Thief") and his lusty sidekick Lola (Hayek, "Hi! I'm Sexy Romantic Interest!") and their purloining of a priceless diamond in Los Angeles. As one of the World's Most Notorious Thieves, Max's reputation precedes him, and wary FBI agent Stan Lloyd (Woody Harrelson – "Howdy! Goofy Sidekick/Nemesis Here!") has all but strapped the precious jewel to his nether regions to insure safe transport. Of course, Max has more than a few tricks up his sleeve, and after a few technical machinations and repeated exposure of Hayek's full, ample bosom, the diamond is in the wrong hands, but not before Stan hits Max with a bullet.
Flash forward an indeterminate amount of time: Lola and Max are retired in the Bahamas, and, with nothing better to do, have fallen into a tired sitcom routine, as she wants to get married while he hems and haws and looks for ways to get out of the house. Temptation sails into view in the form of the Third Napoleon Diamond, which is conveniently the centerpiece of a cruise ship exhibition that has docked in Nassau. Before Max even gets a chance to say "Hey, now that sounds interesti—" up pops Stan again, vowing to Watch Every Move Max Makes. Thus begins a game of brain-dead cat and lethargic mouse, especially once Max is pressured by a local gangster/entrepreneur (Don Cheadle, "Hey Folks, I'm The Bad Guy") to nab the diamond for nefarious purposes, and Stan teams up with a local police officer (Naomie Harris, "Aye, I'm the Sassy Ingenue") to take Max down.
Now any good caper film worth its weight in gold/cash/jewels – from Ocean's Eleven to The Thomas Crown Affair to The Italian Job – knows that in order to be effective, there has to be a heist or two that involves more than just a snatch-and-grab as well as a breathless chase and getaway. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the Caribbean sun or too much alcohol, the makers of After the Sunset forgot to include any such genre necessities, as the opening heist is no more than a car hijacking with a fancy Palm Pilot and the final quote-unquote set piece is a duct-crawling, fishpole-using theft that would put even the most remedial criminal to shame. And don't even look for any kind of double cross here; the plot of After the Sunset is so distressingly linear that by the time it wakes up enough to turn its tables in some direction, it can only muster about a 45-degree surprise that's more a one-and-a-half cross than a double.
So instead of any kind of thievery action, we get endless shots of Pierce and Salma – each upstaged by their own chest -- frolicking in the sand, walking along the beach, dancing to calypso music, eating beautiful lobsters, wearing clingy sarongs, lounging about their beachfront cottage, etc etc. It's such a blatant piece of Bahamian propaganda that you expect at any moment a 1-800 number for the Nassau Tourist Board to pop onscreen. And if you ever had any doubt that Brett Ratner was a less-than-proficient director, just watch how he manages to suck the life and the star quality from every scene, until both Brosnan and Hayek are just shapely clotheshorses, Harrelson is a remedial goofball and even a talented actor like Cheadle comes across as stiff and uncomfortable. (Only Harris, of 28 Days Later fame, emerges relatively unscathed.) When all is said and done, there seems to be only one thing on After the Sunset's mind: Book your Caribbean vacation now, mon!