It's official: Salma Hayek has become Charo.
The actress parades around the piddling jewel-theft comedy like a pair of barely contained breasts on stilts, tossing her mane of black hair, wearing less in each scene than in the one preceding it (except for when she dons a pair of overalls, and she even makes them seem like the punch line to a very dirty joke).
Is she sexy? Sure, in a retrograde, kitten-with-a-whip kind of way. Hugh Hefner, for one, would love it. But you have to wonder how long the 38-year-old actress can keep this hoochie-mama act going. Probable answer: as long as it lets her keep making movies like "Frida."
"After the Sunset," is an old-school stag party of a movie about a "retired" jewel thief named Max Burdett (Pierce Brosnan, acting with his beard stubble) whose Bahamas paradise is spoiled by the appearance of A) a cruise ship carrying the last of three priceless Napoleon diamonds (Max has already stolen the first two) and B) his FBI nemesis Agent Stanley Lloyd (Woody Harrelson). Hayek plays Lola Cirillo, Max's partner, who would rather have a diamond on her finger.
For a movie that's sexist, racist, and possibly the most deeply closeted gay love story to be released this year, "After the Sunset" is reasonably entertaining. The opening-sequence robbery of Napoleon diamond No. 2 in Los Angeles may raise hopes that a decent heist flick is in the offing, even if the image of Brosnan French-kissing what appears to be a bearded homeless man queers the fun a little. But then director Brett Ratner packs everyone off to the Bahamas, and "Sunset" comes down with a bad case of the Jimmy Buffetts.
Stanley and Max end up being best pals of sorts, going on drunken fishing expeditions, slathering suntan oil on each other's back, all the while keeping careful tabs on where the other man is and isn't. They even end up sharing a hotel bed, at which point Stanley's fellow agents bust in for some guffawing jokes about the two being a romantic item.
Methinks the film doth protest too much.
Will Max give into temptation and steal the ice? Will Stanley outfox him or be outfoxed? Actually, the movie doesn't much care. Like the Hawaii-set "The Big Bounce," released earlier this year, "After the Sunset" is content to take in the sights and ogle the ladies. Hayek is the main attraction -- and as noted above, there's every possibility she's a beard -- but Naomie Harris of "28 Days Later" is also on hand as an island policewoman who tells Stanley she never sleeps with vacationing white boys and who jumps in the sack with him a few scenes further on.
There is a black man in the movie; he's the bad guy, a gangster who's tearing down a children's hospital to build a paramilitary training facility. Don Cheadle plays him with a guilt-faced minimum of effort.
The dialogue is strictly reheated Rat Pack -- Max actually says "If it's good enough for Frank it's good enough for me" at one point -- which isn't surprising considering that co-screenwriter Paul Zbyszewski's sole previous credit is the TV game show "The Weakest Link." "After the Sunset" will itself look a lot better when it turns up on Cinemax at 1 a.m. in a few weeks.
Eventually, Ratner and company cough up a climactic robbery and a halfhearted plot twist or two. Fine; it's hard to hate a movie whose heart is stuck in the early-'70s era of high hubba-hubba. For men who came of age then, "After the Sunset" may even feed some middle-age fantasies. Exactly what fantasies those are, I'm not sure I want to know.
Ty Burr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the Sunset