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Brett Ratner
Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson, Don Cheadle, Naomie Harris, Chris Penn, Troy Garity, Mykelti Williamson, Obba Babatundé
Writing Credits:
Paul Zbyszewski (story, screenplay), Craig Rosenberg

Who will walk away?

Pierce Brosnan plays a master thief who, after an incredibly successful heist, moves to the Bahamas with his beautiful partner in crime. But the cat and mouse games begin again when and FBI agent, his old nemesis, returns convinced he is going for the biggest score of all, the famous Napoleon diamond.

Box Office:
$58 million.
Opening Weekend
$11.100 million on 2819 screens.
Domestic Gross
$28.328 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $27.95
Release Date: 3/29/2005

• Audio Commentary with Director Brett Ratner, Producer Beau Flynn And Editor Mark Helfrich
• Deleted/Alternate Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Blooper Reel
• “Before, During and After the Sunset” Documentary
• “Interview with a Jewel Thief” Documentary
• Visual Effects Comparisons
Charlie Rose Show Interviews
• TV Spots
• Trailers
• Easter Eggs


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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After The Sunset: Platinum Series (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 18, 2005)

Can Brett Ratner score a major hit with any movie that doesn’t include Rush Hour in the title? Apparently not, as even the much-touted The Silence of the Lambs “prequel” Red Dragon failed to live up to expectations with its $92 million gross. Ratner also couldn’t get a lot of attention for 2000’s holiday effort The Family Man and its $75 million take; as with Dragon, it made a respectable total, but not enough to qualify it as a real success, especially given the $141 million and $226 million hauls of 1998’s Rush Hour and 2001’s Rush Hour 2, respectively.

Still, Red Dragon and Family Man look like massive blockbusters compared to 2004’s After the Sunset. Ratner’s latest effort brought in a paltry $28 million and quickly vanished from both multiplexes and the public consciousness. No wonder Ratner will soon return to the well with Rush Hour 3.

I won’t cry over the commercial failure of Sunset, as the tepid caper fails to provide much reason to care about it. The FBI keeps an eye on noted jewel thief Max Burdett (Pierce Brosnan) as he watches a Lakers game and they transport a valuable diamond. However, he’s one step ahead of them and he institutes various high-tech methods and low-tech diversions to give the feds the slip. In fact, Max makes his move with agent Stanley Lloyd (Woody Harrelson) still in the car, a kicker that makes the obsessed fed all the more preoccupied with the thief who he’s been chasing for seven years.

Max and partner/lover Lola Cirillo (Salma Hayek) take care of Lloyd and then retire to the Caribbean to recuperate. This is great for a while, but eventually Max tires of the laidback lifestyle, partially due to all the inane married couples with whom they interact. Max starts to miss the more dangerous life, though threats reappear when Lloyd shows up in his home. “The Napoleon Diamond” is on the way to the locale, and Lloyd suspects Max isn’t quite as retired as he claims.

Lola wants to stay retired, but Max seems tempted by the soon-to-arrive jewel. The rest of the film looks at his thoughts in this matter as well as Lloyd’s continued stakeout; he remains on Max’s case. Local cop Sophie (Naomie Harris) also gets involved, and she slowly starts a romance with Lloyd. Actually, the fed becomes friendly with Max eventually, and that relationship complicates the situation.

Didn’t we already see Brosnan as a jewel thief? No wait - he was an art thief in The Thomas Crown Affair - I guess that’s totally different.

Whatever he steals, Brosnan can’t quite get away from the whole Bond thing. When he operates a remote control car early in the flick, it clearly hearkens back to Tomorrow Never Dies. Later we get an underwater sequence and a Junkanoo bit, both of which remind me of Thunderball. The parallels aren’t extreme, but Sunset doesn’t come across as a huge departure for Brosnan.

The actor does offer a nicely weary tone for Max, and that may be the best part of the flick. He relies less on his natural charm than usual, and he attempts to bring some emotional complexity to the role. At times I think Brosnan lets his stubble do the acting for him, as it occasionally feels like we’re supposed to see Max as older and tired just because he’s a little scruffy, but he still does pretty well.

I guess the other actors offer decent work too, but a problem stems from the absolute lack of chemistry seen among the entire crew. Whether we look at Brosnan/Hayek, Brosnan/Harrelson, or Harrelson/Harris, there’s no spark to be found. The actors interact with little life or spark, and that absolutely kills the movie. This kind of zippy semi-caper flick needs ignition, but that liveliness never occurs.

I put the blame on director Ratner, who seems like the wrong choice for this sort of film. Sunset needs someone with a light, deft touch, but Ratner fares better with heavy-handed slapstick comedy such as the Rush Hour movies. He can’t do subtlety, and his lack of nuance submerges the film.

In addition, Sunset becomes saddled with a really leaden script. Rather than become frisky and frothy, it stays boring and uncomplicated. It aspires to depth but never gets there, as it sticks with a turgid cat and mouse game that fails to go anywhere. I guess Max’s internal battle should add depth, but it doesn’t. Instead, the flick plods along toward its inevitable twists.

By the way, are twists really twists if we know they’re coming? I suppose, but this means they don’t come as a surprise. Perhaps we won’t be cognizant of exactly what the twists will be, but our assumption that they’ll arrive eventually makes them less effective.

Maybe After the Sunset never had much of a chance to succeed, though I think its tale of a thief who attempts to go straight had some potential. Unfortunately, the flick totally fails to explore its notions in a satisfying manner, and it also lacks the peppiness to make it a winning confection such as How to Steal a Million. It winds up as a forgettable effort.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus A-

After the Sunset appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Sunset provided a strong picture.

Sharpness seemed good. The movie usually appeared crisp and well-defined, with only a few minor instances of softness. Those instances mainly popped up in wider shots. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no issues, but I did see some mild edge enhancement at times. The movie lacked any issues with print flaws, as I noticed no signs of specks, marks, or other defects.

Colors presented a highlight of the image. Given the tropical setting, the movie used a nicely naturalistic palette, and the DVD replicated those tones well. The hues seemed lively and vibrant, as they remained clean and distinct at all times. Black levels also appeared deep and rich, while shadow detail was appropriately dense but not overly opaque. The picture of Sunset mainly looked strong; it just narrowly fell short of “A” levels.

While the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack lacked consistent ambition, it worked fine for the material. The movie usually stayed with a relatively low-key presentation, but it kicked into somewhat higher gear when necessary. Some of the elements around the island brought nice dimensionality to the affair, and the pieces were accurately placed and nicely melded. Music showed strong stereo imaging as well, and the surrounds added a good feel to the proceedings. A few louder scenes like the chases contributed the best information from the rear, but the movie usually stayed with general ambience. I liked the involving nature of the music heard during a big parade, and the underwater bits also formed a good soundscape. The whole mix seemed satisfying.

Audio quality was positive. Speech always sounded natural and distinctive, and I noticed no signs of edginess or issues with intelligibility. Effects demonstrated good accuracy and clarity. Those elements packed the appropriate punch in more active sequences, and they consistently lacked distortion or other concerns. Music was lush and vibrant as well, and the entire package showed a nice sense of depth and vivacity. Only the restricted scope of the track kept it at “B” level, but it was a more than satisfactory piece of work.

When we head to this “Platinum Series” DVD’s extras, we launch with an audio commentary from director Brett Ratner, producer Beau Flynn and editor Mark Helfrich. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They cover the basics and don’t make this a better than average piece.

We get the usual notes about locations, sets, the cast, the score, story issues, visual effects and the movie’s look, deleted scenes, reshoots, and editing. Some of the more interesting moments connect to Woody Harrelson’s quirks; for instance, he won’t wear anything not made of hemp, and he almost attacked Ratner after a disagreement. A little bickering also pops up among the participants in the track, and those instances bring occasional life to the piece.

Unfortunately, an awful lot of bland praise pops up throughout the track, as those involved - especially Ratner - seem totally enamored by their film. This makes the commentary drag, and since the information provided usually seems pedestrian, the discussion usually remains lackluster. At least the participants acknowledge this tendency; at one point, Ratner makes a crude remark about it. The commentary seems informative enough, I suppose, but not much better than that.

15 Deleted/Alternate Scenes fill a total of 16 minutes and 47 seconds. As you can tell from that running time, we don’t find much of substance here. Mostly we see reshoots or extended versions of existing bits. The most interesting clips come from the alternate endings - including a wedding scene - as well as one that shows Max scamming a tennis pro.

The scenes can be watched with or without commentary from Ratner, Flynn and Helfrich. They tell us a little about the shooting of the clips and usually let us know why the segments didn’t make the film. The commentary offers enough good information to merit a listen.

For more cut footage, we head to the four-minute and 51-second Blooper Reel. As usual, mostly we see goofs and silliness. However, a couple of alternate scenes and pranks appear, and we also see some interesting unused tidbits. It’s a better than average package.

Next comes a documentary called Before, During and After the Sunset. The 70-minute and 19-second program consists almost entirely of behind the scenes video footage. It follows the production from location scouts, casting sessions, wardrobe/makeup tests, building sets, shooting the flick and various problems like an illness that affects Ratner, working with the actors, stunts, practical effects, filming the basketball sequences, special makeup, reshoots, and the premiere. No proper interviews occur, though we hear some occasional impromptu remarks from folks on the set.

Ratner clearly has a healthy ego, so this program focuses mostly on his actions. However, that works out just fine, as it allows us to see a little of everything that happened on the set. We get a fairly blunt look at the proceedings, which means the occasional dispute. I like the bit where Ratner argues with Harrelson about his moustache, and many other memorable moments occur. Where else will you see a whiny Hayek gripe that she has to see too much of Ratner’s “crack”? I love these “fly on the wall” programs, and “Before” ends up as a lively and entertaining glimpse at the shoot.

Briefly excerpted in the prior documentary, we get the full 18-minute and 24-second Charlie Rose Show Interview. This includes remarks from Ratner, Brosnan, Hayek and Harrelson. They discuss how the actors and Ratner came onto the project, their interactions with each other, the appeal of this kind of film and its plot, the characters, and their upcoming efforts. Rose often conducts quality interviews, but this isn’t one of them. The chat does little more than tout the flick with fluffy comments, so don’t expect to learn much from it.

For the final documentary, we find the eight-minute and nine-second Interview with a Jewel Thief. Conducted by Ratner, the chat presents information from author/former crook Bill Mason. He discusses how he became a felon, his methods, his various escapades, and his attitudes toward the work. It’s an interesting little conversation that whets one’s appetite to learn more.

Visual Effects Comparisons go for three minutes and 18 seconds. We see a mix of shots in before and after configurations along with narration from editor Helfrich. He lets us know about the flick’s 150 visual effects shots as we see the changes. It presents a nice illustration of the essentially hidden methods used to touch up the image. Honestly, it’s sometimes more fun to see this kind of stuff than it is to learn about more obvious effects like those in the Lord of the Rings flicks; that stuff’s great, but it’s fascinating to learn about the much less obvious pieces.

In addition to the movie’s trailer, we get two TV spots. “More from New Line” also presents ads for Monster-In-Law and Wedding Crashers.

At least two Easter Eggs pop up on the DVD. Head to the extras menu and click to the right from “Before, During and After the Sunset”. This lets us see an 85-second clip that shows Max and Lola acting out the fake sex that Lloyd hears via his bug. It’s a neat alternate take.

In addition, if you press to the left from “Interview with a Jewel Thief”, you’ll get another egg. This 44-second clip shows a prank Ratner played on Brosnan. It’s funny, but you’ve already seen it if you watched “Before”.

With a successful director and a roster of reasonably strong actors behind it, After the Sunset could have become a lively and engaging little romp. Unfortunately, it can’t balance its various attempts at lightness and drama, and these make it a dull, tedious effort. The DVD offers very good picture and audio plus a very nice roster of extras highlighted by a cool “fly on the wall” documentary. New Line rarely botch their DVDs, and this is another high-quality effort for an underperforming movie. Too bad the flick itself lacks much spark or entertainment value.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5833 Stars Number of Votes: 12
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