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Overall Rating

Awesome: 15.38%
Worth A Look: 23.08%
Pretty Bad25%
Total Crap: 11.54%

4 reviews, 28 user ratings

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Tailor of Panama, The
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Convoluted spy mush."
2 stars

When John Boorman makes a movie like "The Tailor of Panama," it makes me think that he signed on simply for the surrounds, the locale, the intrigue of the setting. I have yet to examine much of Boorman's work, but to me, with those that I have seen, he seems to enjoy vast change in settings. The autobiographical WWII Britain in "Hope and Glory," Burma/Malaysia in (the should I say stunning and visceral) "Beyond Rangoon," and the period-placed Ireland in "The General." (That is the extent of my Boorman knowledge and know-how.) So one can easily comprehend what allure Panama may have had to him, but the movie is a hokey, convoluted and boorish lump.

The spy-like espionage that we are treated to here (based on the book by John le Carré, who co-scripts along with Boorman and Andrew Davies) is about a smug, glib, exiled British spy Andy Osnard (Pierce Brosnan), now stuck in Panama, who harps on the innocuous, but far too imaginative tailor Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush), who was once a criminal.

Osnard, believing he knows something, begins pumping Pendel for information of an uprising and political corruption in Panama, which would hopefully be Osnard's ticket back out, so long as he could masturbate his way up the ranks and likings of those first in Panama, and then back to Britain. As it turns out, to Osnard's surprise, and supposedly ours, Pendel's words are nothing but fibs, fibs he seems unable to contain.

"The Tailor of Panama" is mostly dull. Despite of few ill-placed action scenes and the occasional bout of artificial adrenaline or sexuality, "Tailor" is sewn crookedly and scattered, as are the occurrences in this. The spy-intrigue is non-existent. The movie quickly loses its incentive to want to find out, or know what's going on, because the script is trying far too hard to be far too tricky, all the while leaving the audience behind in a trail of serpentine convolutions, and that simply is not meant as a complement. It is one thing to introduce an equivocal storyline in order to clutch and adhere your audience, but there is a requirement for the occasional explanation to make us privy, otherwise the audience feels betrayed and has no interest in keeping up with it.

Brosnan has really shown that he has no career outside of James Bond any longer ("The Thomas Crown Affair" was but a footnote), and the Bond franchise, though still reaping in the dollars, has finally begun to decline from my interest, and this is coming from a Bondefile. Seemingly unable to get a role if outside the realm of spy material, no matter what side of the table he be on, Brosnan is otherwise condemned to a career of direct-to-video action yarns that seem to be collecting nothing but dust anytime I pass by them on the shelves. Despite his appealing good looks, and British machissimo, the side-of-mouth-spoken gent lacks any authority, demand or resonance with our audiences. And his crass character here is hardly likely to win himself that in most circles. (Full of constant innuendo: "You're right, it was open. Just tight from lack of use." Or, when he aims to be more direct: "How about a farewell fuck here in the office?") Rush exceeds his performance from "Quills" (what a waste of a nomination), but he lacks any connection with the audience and is left like a tailor without threads to spin. Naked, like the emperor with invisible clothes. (Albeit, not naked in the sense as was his poop-smearing Marquis de Sade.) Jamie Lee Curtis is also in the movie, not particularly serving any purpose or service, not to mention the absence of sexuality she supposedly embodies.

In the end, or in the long run, "The Tailor of Panama" pulls one too many jolts or twists on itself before it has tricked itself into retirement and non-commission. Even then, it doesn't recognize how ludicrously bereft it is, and though Boorman, et al. fancy it clever, it is quite appositely silly.

Final Verdict: D+.

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originally posted: 03/30/01 18:54:50
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User Comments

2/27/07 Charles Tatum Unlikable characters trapped in preposterous camp 1 stars
10/02/06 William Goss Underwhelming spy game helped by Rush, Gleeson, and (least of all) Brosnan. Weak ending. 3 stars
2/03/06 Anthony Feor Peirce rocks the house 4 stars
12/07/04 Natasha Theobald great dialogue, great acting, great action - smarmy Brosnan is fun 4 stars
7/23/04 Sean Norton Rush is fantastic, rest are miss-cast, good but could be better 4 stars
11/29/03 john brilliant spy thriller - exiting and ironic - 5 stars
10/02/03 Mopsa Casting Rush VS Brosnan is like a cruel joke: poor Pierce, he's a lamb to the slaughter 4 stars
5/22/03 mr. Pink Huh! What was this all about? 1 stars
4/08/03 Mystique Good music and a good Rush 4 stars
3/04/03 Jack Sommersby An original and entertaining slice of fun. Rush and Brosnan are superb. 4 stars
6/25/02 Law I want my money back 1 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Some fine acting. Nice premise. Just didn't have that flair. 4 stars
11/25/01 R.W. Welch Impausible, slightly satirical spy yarn that doesn't quite click despite good work by Rush. 3 stars
10/03/01 Garth Elliott Just seemed too lightweight - and the ending didn't work for me at all. 3 stars
9/16/01 The Bomb 69 interesting look at post cold war spy intelligence, not sure this could really happen but.. 4 stars
9/05/01 Jim Renwick No doesn't work. 3 stars
6/10/01 Phil M. Afficianado Satirical..."So THIS is what spying has come to" Entertaining/effective in that context 4 stars
6/09/01 Peter Brook Nice acting, LeCarré's story's a bit overblown, though. 3 stars
5/14/01 Beck Good flick! 5 stars
5/14/01 maybe I don't get out enough, but I found it entertaining, 4 stars
5/07/01 Cotter Crap 1 stars
5/07/01 Suzz a waste of celluloid, eyesight, and your time 2 stars
5/04/01 Heather It has it's moments and humor, wait for it on video 4 stars
4/24/01 Beth british sense of humor 3 stars
4/16/01 burton t. e. miller BBBOOOOOOOOOORRRRRIIIINNNNGGGGGG - The most laborious piece of shit I've seen in years. 1 stars
4/15/01 Rob & Sandra a bit choppy & far fetchet, but enjoyed the fantasy journey to Panama 3 stars
4/06/01 Louis Really bad. 1 stars
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  30-Mar-2001 (R)


  16-Aug-2001 (M)

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