Gorgeous and lusty young Lola Cirillo (Salma Hayek, Frida) wants nothing more than to watch the sunset from her seaside deck in the Bahamas. But for her older boyfriend, Max Burdett (Pierce Brosnan, Laws of Attraction), the prospect of eternal horizon-gazing is terrifying. After a few months, paradise has become a bore. Max is sick of fresh lobster and even though Lola lunges at him with fierce passion every few minutes, he wishes he’d never let himself get talked into early retirement. He needs a hobby, that’s for sure. Lola is blissfully happy playing tennis, painting, snorkeling and woodworking, but all poor Max likes to do is snatch big, famous diamonds that everyone says are impossible to steal.
Max is not only the smoothest of cat burglars, he’s also an expert with technological crime aids and a brilliant choreographer of crowd distractions. He’s notorious for stealing jewels from right under the very noses of the FBI agents assigned to guard them. The agent he has humiliated the most is Stan Lloyd (Woody Harrelson, TV’s Cheers), who’s been suspended from the force because of Max’s most recent shenanigans.
Stan arrives in the Bahamas by himself, determined to taunt Max into committing one last heist at a jewel show on a cruise liner docking off the island for a week. Stan turns the tables on Max, using the thief’s own techniques on him to try to set up a sting. Entering the mix is the local crime boss, Kingpin (Don Cheadle, The United States of Leland), who wants Max to steal the diamond for him. There’s also a by-the-book local cop, Sophie (Naomie Harris, 28 Days Later), who’s just as pretty as Lola is, but she keeps her clothes on more often. This is a good idea, because in Sunset, she’s been paired with Harrelson, who gets the award as the most unsexy FBI agent in the history of buddy movies.
In between beautiful Bahamian travelogue scenes, Max and Stan joust with macho-guy tricks — spying on one another, slapping on sunscreen, sleeping in the same bed, stuff like that. This is actually funny, in that odd sort of way grownup men act like goofy ninth-graders. Meanwhile, the cruise-ship diamond, which is protected by super-complicated security measures, becomes the adrenaline magnet Max can’t resist. But how can he grab the diamond, and at the same time be swimming in a scuba-diving foursome?
Relatively new scriptwriters (Paul Zbyszewski, TV’s Weakest Link, and Craig Rosenberg, Hotel de Love) have written a cute caper that all the actors seem to have had a good time in. The movie doesn’t break any new crime-caper ground, and as a fan of movie jewel heists, I was sorely disappointed by the lackluster crime itself. But other than the pointless killing of a bad guy, the movie is a pleasant enough diversion. In Sunset, Brett Ratner seems to have used the vacation spirit of the Caribbean to tone down the manic, sexist energy he gives Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in his Rush Hour movies.
Unless you’re gaga about Salma Hayek and must see her curvaceous glory bigger-than-life on the big screen, Sunset is one of those movies that can wait for home viewing. It’s a perfect choice for a cold winter’s night, when visions of beaches and bikini-clad beauties are most welcome.
– reviewed by Marci Miller