Projections - Movie Reviews

The Tailor of Panama The Tailor of Panama

In The Tailor of Panama Pierce Brosnan is a British agent, but one named Osnard, Andy Osnard, cast against type from the tightly suave James Bond.  So with director John Boorman providing him with the part of an amoral operative demoted to Panama for "his sins," a wry edge to a spy story emerges as the dynamic between Osnard and Geoffrey Rush's title character offers a predominantly European flavor in this subtle and somewhat witty adaptation of a John LeCarre novel.

Spies like James Bond are the kind that America has come to revere and Boorman uses the type that measures waistcoats as a new recruit for the British.  Set against the backdrop of the US handing over the famed canal back to Panama in 1979, The Tailor of Panama can be recommended as an elaborate spoof of undercover intrigue.  But Boorman and co-scenarists Andrew Davies and LeCarre aren't that convincing in making one interested in what's happening to many of the characters.

Those who enjoy the work of Graham Greene will be drawn into The Tailor of Panama as Rush's catering tailor Harry Pendel is, at the outset, well-established in Panama creating the nicest Saville Row worsteds for top-flight businessmen and government officials.  Harry is wed to Jamie Lee Curtis' lovely Louisa, an American engineer's daughter who has two children and a seemingly comfortable lifestyle.

With Brosnan's edgy agent in Panama indebted from high rolling and troubled womanizing, Harry's past becomes clearer as Osnard focuses on the eavesdropper who can be a valuable informant for the British.

Not nearly as riveting as Boorman's Hope and Glory or Beyond Rangoon, the artistic director still attracts one with atmosphere through astute photography and designs that give one a good feel of post-Noriega Panama.  This Casablanca without heroes delves into Third World politics as Harry turns out to be an ex-con and divulges information to Andy about the sale of the Canal to foreign interests.

Brendan Gleeson and Leonar Varela give honest performances as Mickie and Marta and Brosnan has fun with the sleazy, avaricious Andy who plans an escape with a fortune he can amass from rumors surrounding some unsubstantiated information.

Catherine McCormack is an icy diplomat seduced by Osnard and David Hayman is the oblivious, maybe, ambassador who is part of the joking.  Gleeson, the engaging Varela, and Curtis (True Lies) may seem to be a part of another story as Brosnan and Rush keep this a European but  meandering tale of dry wit within its derisive diplomatic trails, even though it's not tailored for those who enjoy their martinis shaken but not stirred.

The Tailor of Panama

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