(PG-13) 3 starsEd Johnson-Ott
After the Sunset is a heist flick/buddy movie/romantic comedy set mostly in the Bahamas. The premise - when two charming crooks/lovers retire to a gorgeous Caribbean hideaway after pulling off the caper of a lifetime, what happens next? - is intriguing, but the resultant screenplay is formulaic and generally inept. Overall, the movie is a dud, which would make this an easy review to write except for one thing: I liked it. Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek in 'After the Sunset'
I'm fond of the lead players: Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson and Naomie Harris (the charismatic female lead in 28 Days Later) and I found the Bahamian setting both beautiful and soothing. The laid-back feel was enhanced by a remarkable lack of tension in the heist scenes - a huge flaw in the screenplay to be sure, but I had zero interest in the heist storyline, so it worked for me.
The bottom line is that I was in the mood to spend some time with Pierce, Salma, Woody and Naomie in a gorgeous setting and I didn't care about the lame storyline. A bonus: In addition to the erotic scenes between the men and women, the guys spend an unusually large amount of time shirtless. Even better, a series of gags intended to draw nervous laughs by placing Pierce and Woody in pseudo-sexual settings offered more light eroticism for big gay me.
After the Sunset opens with a colorful heist of an absurdly valuable diamond. The jewel is held by FBI agent Stan Lloyd (Harrelson), who is surrounded by many, many officers of the law. The security is no problem for drop-dead good looking thieves Max (Brosnan) and Lola (Hayek), however, who snag the rock and leave their longtime foe Stan looking all the fool.
Cut to Paradise Island in the Bahamas, where Max and Lola have retired to spend the rest of their lives looking at sunsets from the beach outside their back door. A dream come true? Yes, but Max is feeling itchy. Could it be that he's not a looking-at-sunsets-from-the-beach kind of guy?
Re-enter Stan the Man. Seems that a diamond similar to the one snagged from him is to be shown on a cruise ship due to dock at Paradise Island for a lengthy stay. Stan believes that Max and Lola had advance information about the showing and moved to the Bahamas to prepare to steal it. He hooks up with Officer Sophie (Harris), an ace local cop, and makes his presence know to Max and Lola, initiating a cat and mouse game with Max.
Oh, and there is some business with Don Cheadle as an American who has become a Paradise Island crime lord. Though he gets a couple of funny lines, the talented Mr. Cheadle is wasted here in what is more or less just a cameo role.
The plot is ridiculous and the caper plan full of holes, but they allow the four principals to interact, which is all I wanted. The lovely Naomie Harris proves that the impression she created in 28 Days Later was no fluke; she has a long career ahead of her. Salma Hayek, who sports a number of skimpy swimsuits, is as good as always in an unaffected performance that makes the movie momentarily seem far more substantial than it is.
Although there are romances between the two men and two women, the focus of the film is on the male bonding between Pierce Brosnan and Woody Harrelson. Both men are in fine form, and how nice it is to see Woody back on the big screen after too long an absence.
After the Sunset flounders at what it purports to be - a breezy heist film. But those who, like me, are looking for nothing more than a pleasant romp between some very likable and attractive performers in an attractive setting should appreciate the goings-on.