Brett Ratner, the man behind the Rush Hour franchise, proves that dropping sly nods in Alfred Hitchcock's direction does not necessarily a fine caper make. While a couple of references to the master's 1955 classic To Catch a Thief crop up in After the Sunset, Paul Zbyszewski's script is high-grade hokum, a cookie-cutter mishmash of Pierce Brosnan's minor-league Cary Grantisms and plenty of shots of Salma Hayek's bosom and backside. It's as if the essence of the heist genre had been filtered through the mindset of Maxim magazine, complete with lingering looks at the various actresses lounging around in thongs and sarongs while the former 007 does his best to play the rogue with a heart of gold. What's not to love?
For starters, there's the threadbare nature of the plot, which has Brosnan's master thief, Max Burdett, and his accomplice/bedmate Lola (Hayek) hightailing it to the Caribbean to spend the rest of their days frolicking in the sunshine after pulling off that fabled last big job. As it happens, they've perennially made a fool of FBI agent Stan Lloyd (Woody Harrelson), and this time Lloyd comes looking for them. How exactly he tracks the pair to the Bahamas, where they live in mild island splendor, is never explained. You'd think this pair of ace jewel thieves could cover their tracks better, but no, one moment they're making an ass of the FBI and the next Lloyd wanders back into their lives to tell them he's on to their scam, and they'd better mind their p's and q's.
The scam in question, however, hasn't even occurred to the otherwise occupied duo, who spend their days adding a deck onto their beachfront property and sparring over the whole marriage issue. It's up to Harrelson's oddly unprofessional agent, then, to tip them off to the fact that a cruise ship containing a mega-carat Napoleonic diamond is about to drop anchor in the bay - a perfect target for the egocentric Max and an equally ideal piece of bait for agent Lloyd to use as a snare against his wily adversaries.
The plotline is ridiculous on ever-changing levels, but Brosnan, at least, acquits himself admirably. His Max may be a cliché of the first rank, but it's also just as clear he's having a ball playing the featherweight role. I suspect a lot of that has to do with Ratner's choice of locations: What actor wouldn't enjoy a role set amid the eye-popping splendor of crystalline beachheads and azure, sun-kissed skies? After the Sunset is the ideal film to more or less ignore while lounging poolside and sipping Jamaican rum.