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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A parody of every tyrant the world has seen!

6/10
Author: Roddy-15 from Florida
4 April 2000

It is hard to find a person who is both extremely evil and at the same time funny. Well Noriega was it. He was basically a walking-parody of every dictator the world has ever known. He was so mad many of the things he said and did were funny (in a black comedy sort of way). He was so evil anyone could write a book out of all the horrors he committed during the years he ruled over Panama. And strangely, his luck ended only after he was finally apprehended.

Usually, movies based in real-life events often fail to be accurate. Well, in this movie, even the uniforms worn by the military were exact replicas of the real thing. And Noriega did have a picture of Hitler in his office. And he did have a statue of the Virgin Mary next to it. And he was a vegetarian. Also a voodoo priest. And the people who tried to overthrow him made the mistake of leaving him alone in his office as the movie shows. Everything you see in this movie happened more or less. The real Noriega said some of the crazy things you can hear in this film. He did the horrors you see in this movie and even more. He survived two coups, Colombian cartels and an American invasion of Panama.

This movie basically has it all. It is a black comedy, a violent drama, and it gives you the chance to get a glimpse of a part of history most people have forgotten. Excellent performance by Bob Hoskins. Lawrence Wright did an excellent job with the script. This movie never fails to entertain, educate and at the same time bring to life a very enigmatic and dark person: Tony Noriega.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A Biography of a Ludicrous Tyrant

7/10
Author: jcanettis from Athens, Greece
23 April 2005

"Noriega: God's Favorite" is a film portraying the life of the notorious dictator of Panama, Tony Noriega. Although it spans only a short span of Noriega's life, namely the time he was at the peak of his power, until his fall and arrest by the Americans, the account gives us a fair idea of the style and deeds of the man.

More specifically, Noriega is portrayed as an absolute despot who despite his claims of being a man of God and a patriot, his deeds reflect the exact opposite: He is a crude womanizer, who takes advice from charlatans and witch-doctors, and whose most important act for his country has been to divert the public funds to his Swiss bank account. Alhtough a completely ludicrous figure who takes every opportunity to make ridicule of himself in public, he is nonetheless utterly ruthless and does not hesitate to crush his opponents with a vengeance.

I cannot judge objectively if this account is historically correct, as I am not an expert in Latin American history. Yet, by what I have read in the past when Noriega was at the headlines, the story seems to be within the boundaries of truth. Bob Hoskins is very good in his role as the dictator, while the other members of the cast are also more than satisfactory. The same applies for the direction as well, which keeps the film rolling smoothly without getting any boring. 7/10.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A human comedy

Author: Matthew Ignoffo (mermatt@webtv.net) from Eatontown, NJ, USA
3 April 2000

This story of Noriega is an interesting mix of tragedy and comedy. It tells the story of a human monster who evidently just wanted love. Hoskins is wonderfully adept at capturing the odd combination of evil and humor needed to make such a strange story work.

The film also illustrates the way the US so often shoots itself in the foot by first supporting and then being betrayed by little tin gods -- and also betraying the people that we induce to fight the tin gods. Maybe we will learn the lesson someday, but not yet.

Noriega seems to be, indeed, God's favorite because he gets away with so much and never seems to be terribly scathed. Maybe Noriega is an example of God's sense of humor. If so, he validates the old saying that God works in strange ways -- or, in this case, laughs in strange ways.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

just one thing

Author: Bruce Ferreira from Panama
23 February 2001

this movie here about Noriega i have to say is very good, I was born and raised in Panama, and I believe that this movie does not portray the life of Noriega like it really should be, I think that they needed to do a bit more research in order have made a better movie.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

More light entertainment than historical fact but is an interesting and fun movie

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
23 August 2004

When the previous ruler dies in a plane crash, General Noriega seizes control of Panama despite having a history of corruption and cruelty. With connections to both drug cartels and the CIA, Noriega is a typically small-time 'tin-pot dictator' who finds himself being forced out of power by those around him until he takes it by force. With a battle of words and might with the US, Noriega gradually finds himself out of his depth as he tries to get more and more of what he wants.

I didn't know anything about Noriega before I watched this movie – in fact if I had known less then I might have assumed that this was a biopic about an American rapper! However the film opens with a 'history for dummies' about Panama and Noriega that helps set the scene for a story that is very simplistic and liberal with the facts but is still fun and interesting to watch. The film sweeps across Noriega's connections with cartels and the US and focuses more on his character than anything else. The sweep of facts means that it is difficult to trust it and it is not a film to watch if you wish to be well informed but it seems to touch on the bullet points as a vague summary and I found it valuable to take in the basics and learn a little if not a lot. The film pitches the film with an amusing air and it follows this through into the title character.

Here Noriega is a character of some comedy but not totally played for laughs. He is greedy, corrupt and desperate and, as such, could easily be any similar ruler of a small country! The film paints this character for entertainment rather than education but at times it manages to adopt a serious enough tone to avoid just being a bit of fluff. In fact it also injects humour into the role the US plays in the country and it is none too flattering in its depiction of the CIA etc. This is not to say that this is very real because I doubt that this is the full story as it should be told but it is enough to do the job. Hoskins was a strange choice but he does it quite well and is responsible for good a good job mixing the humour with the serious side even if he doesn't give a performance so much as a caricature of a small time dictator! The support cast is mostly good and has quite a few familiar faces but the film pretty much belongs to Hoskins.

Overall not a great film if you are looking for a factual story that you will learn from but it is an entertaining film that has enough basis in fact to be interesting and to give you a good overview of the man's story. The amusing tone makes for an enjoyable story and, although not a great performance, Hoskins does well to mix the comic with the serious and produce a film that is interesting and entertaining and worth seeing as long as you come prepared for the fact that it is far from being a factual historic film.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's supposed to be a comedy!

Author: ben-933 from United States
13 March 2006

The truth is, I have not seen this movie. But I wanted to write something because all the reviews I've seen of this movie so far seem to miss an extremely critical point. This movie is based on a book, which was a fictionalized account of the fall of Noriega, titled "God's Favorite." That book is one of my best-loved reads. It's not at all supposed to be a truthful recounting of the actual events, it's a dark comedy loosely based on fact. If you watch this movie thinking it's serious, I have no doubt you will be disappointed. If you approach this movie knowing it's a comedy, maybe you'll have better luck. Then again, if you still don't like it, maybe try looking up the book sometime. Based on my great experience with the book, I'm looking forward to seeing this movie sometime soon. (I didn't even know there was a movie made until I went hunting for a review of the book to share with friends.)

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Some shots of the Panama's president Manuel Noriega

5/10
Author: esteban1747 from Spain
3 December 2001

The best of the film is the performance of Hoskins as Noriega although the life of the dictator shown here is partially an invention, particularly in the scenes where Noriega does things brutally. The success is that this movies clearly showed who created Noriega, dictator, his links with the Irangate and antisandinistas in Nicaragua, his deal with the drug cartels, and others. The film also tries to indicate some involvement of Noriega in the assassination of Torrijos.

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Good showing from Hoskins

5/10
Author: smatysia (feldene@comcast.net) from Houston
18 April 2015

This was a medium low budget, made for cable TV film. The emphasis and framing device are at least different from the usual "biopic". I cannot speak for the veracity of the film, although I do recall a fair amount of this stuff from when it was going on, particularly the invasion. The film glosses over the fact that it took a week or so to get Noriega to surrender from the papal nunciate, and that he negotiated a few small concessions in return. If the film was considered comedic, that largely escaped me. Interesting that johnnyb2000_ seems to think that the film would be more true to events if made by Oliver Stone! But he is correct that no one should try to get their history from a movie. Any movie. Bob Hoskins was odd casting for Noriega, but he seemed incapable of putting in a bad performance. Rosa Blasi was good as well. But overall, I can't really recommend this film.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Why did Noriega surrender? Just cause.

6/10
Author: George Parker from Orange County, CA USA
11 January 2003

Those expecting "Noriega: God's Favorite" to be a serious docudrama, biopic, or history lesson will likely be disappointed to find its representation of the reign of Noriega as Panama's evil thug dictator to be an embellished and peculiar mix of tongue-in-cheek drama and dark comedy which is surprisingly sympathetic to the title character. With the Philippines standing in for Panama much better than Hoskins standing in for the squat, pockmarked Noriega, the film goes off tangentially with seemingly little purpose save entertaining. The latter it appears to accomplish well in spite of it's made-for-tv low-budgetness and theatrical execution. Worth a look for those who don't mind filmdom playing with serious matters of history. (B-)

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Completely False

1/10
Author: johnnyb2004_ from United States
24 July 2005

This movie, based on the book by the same name, is a completely false representation of the story. The movie was originally planned to be released by a major studio, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Al Pacino. But when Stone personally met Noriega, accused the script of being completely untrue. Therefore, no other studio bought the script and the only way to get it released was for a low budget, television release. Biopic? Don't think so. This film is everything but real, therefore you should think of it as a story you could could get lost in, instead of basing your whole knowledge of the events solely on what you see on a screen.

Never believe what you see in movies. That is why they are what they are.

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