'The Matador'

So these two guys at the end of their respective ropes meet in a hotel bar one night, suss each other out and become fast friends, only it turns out that one's a corporate schlub and the other, well, he kills people.

Greg Kinnear is the schlub, a guy called Danny whose suburban-professional lifestyle couches a steamer trunk's worth of baggage. And Pierce Brosnan is Julian, whose career as a freelance assassin has left him sorely lacking in interpersonal skills.

Don't panic -- Brosnan doesn't turn out to be the embodiment of Kinnear's repressed rage, or anything. Instead, "The Matador" follows its own odd little path, letting the relationship between Danny and Julian develop naturally and with a strange charm, even expanding their little duet to include Hope Davis as Danny's complicated wife, Bean, halfway through the picture. There's plot going on all over the place, with people needing killing and Julian dragging Danny along on at least one job, but the movie stays stubbornly intimate -- amoral as all hell, but intimate nonetheless.

There's more than a hint of George Armitage's "Grosse Pointe Blank" in director Richard Shepard's script -- Shepard even nods to the earlier work with a similar new-wave soundtrack -- but "The Matador" is much more than a simple homage; it's more like a remix, a thriller that chooses instead to be a character comedy about two very different men who forge a friendship that saves both their lives. Or something like that.

Genius Products' enhanced-widescreen DVD is a pretty impressive special edition, all things considered, going so far as to include Shepard's appearances on two radio shows, KCRW's "The Treatment" and NPR's "The Business."

Clearly comfortable in front of a microphone, Shepard also appears on both of the DVD's audio commentaries, soloing on one and joining Kinnear and Brosnan for a slightly silly three-way on the second. (Make sure you listen all the way to the end on that one.)

The disc also includes 11 deleted scenes, with optional Shepard commentary, and a production featurette; oddly, the video compression on the extras is terribly noisy, making for a very squinty experience.

STUDIO: Genius Products
RELEASE DATE: Available now
RATING: R
PRICE: $28.95
TIME: 97 minutes
DVD EXTRAS: English and Spanish subtitles; audio commentaries; deletedscenes; production featurette; radio shows.
INTERNET SITE: www.matadorthemovie.com

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