Newest in my venture to watch my movie collection in alphabetical(ish) order. To see other posts in the series, click here. As always, potential Spoiler Alert.
I don’t remember buying this movie. I assume it was in the cheap bin, and I bought it because Pierce Brosnan is in it, and I’ve had a thing for him ever since he was Remington Steele when I was a teenager. At least, I hope it was in the cheap bin, because I’d hate to have paid full price for it, because it’s got too many things wrong with it to be worth full price.
First, from a strictly plot-based point of view, there’s the diamond Brosnan’s jewel thief character, Max, steals. Problem number one: it’s on display on a cruise ship. Problem number two: said cruise ship is in port for a full week. And problem number three: said cruise ship is letting anyone and everyone on board to look at it.
Now, I’ve not been on board many cruise ships. In fact, I’ve only been on board one cruise ship. (Although, given that the experience turned me off of cruises forever, I supposed you could say I’ve been on both of them: first and last.)
Anyway, even given my limited cruise experience, it’s enough to blow the whole jewel heist plot to smithereens. While I guess maybe I could accept a brand new cruise ship displaying a super rare diamond on its maiden voyage to attract customers, there’s no way in they’d stay in one port for a week. That would kind of negate the whole purpose of, y’know, cruising. And there’s even less chance that just anybody could waltz aboard to see it. As a passenger, I had to show my passport each time I embarked, and everything I was carrying was x-rayed. I bought a bottle of tentura ashore one day, and the security guard on the x-ray machine nearly tangled his tongue shouting, “Liquor liquor liquor liquor!” upon which the bottle was whisked away, only to be returned at the end of the cruise. There’s no way in hell that Max would be able to get aboard simply by ducking his head to the side when a cruise ship staffer glanced his way.
But far worse than a simple plot hole – even one you could drive a cruise ship through – is the treatment of the women in the story. Both Salma Hayek’s Lola and Naomie Harris’s Sophie get the short end of the character stick.
Sophie is completely unnecessary. Her only purpose is to surrender to the – charm? Is charm what that’s supposed to be? – of Woody Harrelson’s Stan. ‘No means no’ doesn’t exist in Stan’s world, as he repeatedly hits on Sophie despite her continued ‘Never gonna happen,’ responses. And if it stopped there, it’d be okay – not in the sense that Stan’s behaviour is acceptable, but in that women face that kind of treatment all the time, so at least it’s realistic. But no, instead Sophie fulfills the female character stereotype and randomly falls for Stan, despite zero change in his behaviour, only to be betrayed by him – surprise! – and exit stage left, never to be mentioned again. It’s like her only purpose is to further the arc of the male character, or something.
And then there’s Lola. Lola is Max’s partner in crime, and she’s the driving force behind their retirement. Max is bored, and when Lola hears about the cruise ship with the diamond, she hands him an ultimatum: her or the heist. Max promises her that stealing the diamond isn’t even on his mind but, in the long run he chooses the heist.
And Max suffers no real consequences of his choice. Even though his actions result in Lola literally having a gun pointed at her head and a man being shot to death in her home, and even though Max has proven that he’ll lie to her, and even though she leaves him, all it takes is a night spent apart and Max making a passionate declaration of love at the foot of an airstair on an airport runway for him to win her back. The film makes it clear that they plan to continue their retired lifestyle as before – the one that bored Max so much – but that somehow, now, it’s going to be better.
So yeah, there’s not much to recommend this movie. In fact, there’s only one thing I like about it.
A brother of mine lived in New Zealand for a time, and he gave me this Maori bone carving as a gift. I cherish it – wore it every day for years, but eventually had to stop when I got into an industry where jewellery and machinery don’t mix. Max wears something very similar throughout After the Sunset. So while I don’t foresee this movie ever making its way off the shelf and into the DVD player again, at least when Max was onscreen, there was one thing for me to smile about.