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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 EricDSnider

"One of the most intelligent, grandly entertaining films of the year."
5 stars

“The Tailor of Panama” is the first film to be shot on location in that country, and what a grand portrait it paints! Lush landscapes, charming locals, and corruption as far as the eye can see.

The post-Noriega Panama is, in this droll spy film, a place of crumbling morals and even worse social strata: Everyone is either dirt poor or filthy rich. It’s “Casablanca — without the heroes,” says the title character, Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush), whose client list includes every wealthy man in Panama City.

He is approached by Andy Osnard (Pierce Brosnan), a British spy seeking personal gain. There’s little real trouble at this point, with Noriega out of the picture, so Andy creates some with Harry’s help. He figures to make everyone fear Panama’s about to sell the canal out from under the United States (which still controls it at this point), and pocket whatever millions he can get out of the trouble he starts.

Harry is coerced into helping because he has a checkered past he’d rather his American wife Louisa (Jamie Lee Curtis) not know about. As tailor to the stars, he hears a lot of secrets, and in exchange for having his considerable debts paid off, he tells Andy more than he actually knows. His drunken friend Mickie (Brendan Gleeson), he says, is still part of a “silent resistance,” as is his secretary, Marta (Leonor Varela). With a little greasing of the palms, they could be rallied to action.

Part of the fun of this film is not knowing exactly how much Harry is making up, and how much is real. At the same time, we’re never entirely sure what to make of Andy. We know he’s a scoundrel — sort of a James Bond type, but more vulgar — but what depths his dishonesty goes to we don’t fully grasp until the end.

It’s a good old-fashioned espionage caper film, with one significant difference: Where the thrill usually comes from seeing everything unravel at the end, here we witnessed the, uh, raveling in the first place. The intrigue is created right before our eyes. We see the webs weaved, and then we see their undoing. Very slick, very fun.

Andrew Davies, adapting John Le Carre’s novel, writes whip-smart characters and dialogue. I love Harry’s succinct, perfect description of the corruption that remains after Noriega: “They got Ali Baba, but they missed his 40 thieves.” And is anyone else as impressed as I am by Geoffrey Rush drawing chalk lines for a new suit like he’s been doing it all his life?

What a thoroughly enjoyable little film.

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originally posted: 06/22/01 06:51:52
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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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