John LeCarre's spy thriller is brought to the big screen. A British spy is banished to Panama after having an affair with an ambassador's mistress. Once there he makes connection with a local tailor with a nefarious past and connections to all of the top political and gangster figures in Panama. The tailor also has a wife, who works for the Panamanian president and a huge debt. The mission is to learn what the President intends to do with the Panama Canal. But what the two do is concoct a tremendous fictional tale about former mercenaries who are ready to topple the current government and are willing to work with Britain and the US to do so. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
The recurring "nunca de rodillas" (never on our knees) phrase is remarkably similar to the one of Mexican revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata, who actually said "I rather die on my feet than live on my knees". See more »
When the salsa band is first seen playing on the waterfront, a man is singing, but none of the male band members' mouths is moving. See more »
Andrew 'Andy' Osnard:
Best I could do Andrew. Under the circumstances, given your sins. They were baying for blood.
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In the present Fahrenheit 9/11 atmosphere on re-watching this film I find much to admire not due to its incendiary political comment but from the skill of its making and its continued relevance which is the sign of a film which, I hope, will endure.
Ignoring the politics, for a moment, there is a lot to appreciate in Boorman's quick editing, interplay of farce and tragedy and ability to sum up a very complex story with telling detail. He draws stunning performances out of his actors (apart from the ever annoying Jamie Lee Curtis). Brosnan shifts character bewilderingly but by the end his roguish charm has been fully shed to reveal the horror of the man beneath, making Geoffrey Rush's exploitation believable and pathetic.
This ranks, along with the Killing Fields and Salvador (I'm sure I've forgotten many other worthy examples), as one of my favourite angry anti-war, anti-interventionism films arguing that where the justifying intelligence isn't good enough the rich and powerful states do not have the right to interfere, at least unless their motivations are purer than self interest. On the other hand, it is a great human drama with the country which serves as its backdrop used to great effect to emphasise the human tragedies played out within. Watch and enjoy, but you may find the first 10-15 minutes difficult until you have settled with the style - definitely worth a second watching.
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