An old song insists that breaking up is hard to do. Apparently retirement is, too—especially if you're a master thief presented with one final, irresistible opportunity to pull off an impossible heist.
After the Sunset opens with FBI agent Stanley Lloyd delivering the second of three massive Napoleon diamonds to a museum in L.A. Agent Lloyd is determined to keep the stone out of the clutches of Max Burdett and his partner in crime (and bed) Lola Cirillo. Despite every conceivable precaution, though, Max and Lola make off with the diamond—their second such snatch on Agent Lloyd's watch.
And supposedly their last. Max and Lola "retire" to a tropical paradise in the Caribbean following the job, intent on enjoying a crime-free ever after. But Lloyd follows them, convinced that Max is on the island to case his next heist: the third Napoleon diamond which resides on a cruise ship soon due into port.
The movie asks what's more important, lasting relationships or succeeding at the next challenge life presents. Lola loves the thrill of the heist, but she's ready to settle down for a real life. She asks Max, "Do you think the third [diamond] is going to make you whole?" She also tells him, "We went out at the top of our game, undefeated. The best time to quit. Now the challenge is to find joy in simple things, and I like that challenge." To make the most of her new life, Lola constantly pursues her hobbies, such as scuba diving and building a deck on their house, and she encourages Max to take up healthier interests, too. Lola challenges him to see that sharing each night's sunset is what matters most.
Once Max and Lloyd strike up an unlikely friendship, the FBI agent reinforces Lola's values. "People like you are never happy," he tells Max. "You're anxious, egocentric, type-A perfectionists. You'll die with a million bucks and a thousand regrets. But people like me relax and hold hands at the end of the day. We are the happy ones."
Lola repeatedly expresses her desire for a permanent commitment by asking Max if he's written his wedding vows yet. When he tells her he'll do it, she says that it's not for her, but for himself that he needs to think about those vows.
When Max first tells Lola about the third Napoleon diamond, she says, "I hope you don't think this is a gift from God, because this is God messing with us." Justifying his desire to steal the diamond, Max says, "The only way to rid yourself of temptation is to yield to it."
After the Sunset is full of sensual images and sexually oriented dialogue. A constant sexual aspect is Lola's never-ending parade of clingy, revealing clothes that leave almost nothing to the imagination. From halter tops to bikinis to multiple camera shots of cleavage bursting from her shirts, Lola's body is arguably the movie's visual centerpiece—so much so that it was actually disturbing to actress Salma Hayek. (More on this in the Conclusion.)
Several scenes are quite sexual, but without nudity. The first scene of Max and Lola on the island shows them making out on the beach. Lola's chest is pressed up against his, but it's pretty clear she doesn't have a top on. When Max talks about giving in to temptation, Lola says, "Sometimes we just need to turn our back to temptation." Then she turns away from him and drops her robe, revealing her lingerie. Max climbs on top of her so audiences understand exactly what's going to happen next. Elsewhere, Lola hops into a bathtub with Max. (We see her bare shoulder as she does so.)
Lloyd works his way into Constable Sophie's heart, and their clothes quickly come off in his hotel room. In a casino, strippers in lingerie are seen pole dancing in the background.
Other scenes exalt in double entendres and sexual innuendo, and allude to sexual activity without showing it. Max pays for a pair of masseuses in skimpy clothes to go to Lloyd's room. Max and Lola fake a conversation about inviting another woman—Lloyd's mom—to join them for a ménage a trois. When Max stays at Lloyd's hotel after Lola kicks him out one night, he and Lloyd sleep in the same bed, shirtless. FBI agents show up the next morning and find them together. Lloyd's arm is draped over Max when they arrive, prompting a bevy of "don't ask, don't tell" jokes.
Gunplay, scuffles, chases and fistfights—such is the cops-and-robbers style violence in After the Sunset. A Chevy Suburban rams two other trucks. In the same chase scene, that SUV is hemmed in by two cars that stop it by bumping the trapped vehicle back and forth between them. Lloyd shoots Max in the shoulder during the first diamond robbery. The FBI agent breaks into Max and Lola's home when he arrives on the island; Max finds him, and each man pulls a gun on the other. Constable Sophie grabs the crotch of one of the crime-lord's henchmen. Lloyd shoots a shark that he and Max caught during a fishing trip. Lloyd gets hit in the face with a trombone while pursuing Max through a parade. Police and cruise ship personnel chase Max on two different occasions, once opening fire on him as he tries to escape.
In the film's most violent scene, Lola finds herself in the clutches of one of the bad guys—with a gun against her head as the man holds her by the hair. The villain hits Max with the gun, and he then falls to the floor. Lola pummels the man in kind, only to be brutally whacked in the face herself. As the man is about to shoot Max, Lola hurls a knife at him, which embeds itself in his leg. Before he can fire at Max, the antagonist is shot by others who arrive on the scene.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Numerous scenes depict one or more people drinking wine or hard liquor. Two scenes show Max and Lloyd getting falling-down drunk, once at a beach-side bar, another time on a deep-sea fishing trip. A couple of guys smoke cigars.
Since the '80s detective show Remington Steele, very few of Pierce Brosnan's onscreen roles have deviated far from the sophisticated gentleman agent—or thief. From his tenure as James Bond, to The Thomas Crown Affair, to The Tailor of Panama, Brosnan is comfortable and believable playing clever yet slightly world-weary provocateurs. Max Burdette is another character cut of the same cloth, and After the Sunset deviates little from Brosnan's time-tested (and bankable) stereotype. At times I almost felt is if I was watching a racy Remington Steele reunion show, in which the main character had gone bad.
The other required ingredient in this particular genre seems to be a liberal sprinkling of sexuality. The movie isn't as explicit as it could be—no doubt to secure a PG-13 rating—but Salma Hayek's sensual presence is a constant in virtually every scene. In fact, the filmmakers so accentuated the actress's form that even she was surprised by the end result. At a party thrown to celebrate the film's release, Hayek commented, "This is the first time I've seen the movie as a whole. I had no idea there was going to be so much concentration on my body."
In this respect, After the Sunset reminded me of a similar film pairing another aging James Bond alum with a buxom young helper: 1999's Entrapment. It starred Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and garnered a PG-13 rating for its sensuality, violence and drug use. Both films left me wondering if it's possible to tell these kinds of stories without such demeaning, objectifying portrayals of women.