The Tailor of Panama (2001)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  4 May 2001 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 22,974 users   Metascore: 66/100
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A tailor living in Panama reluctantly becomes a spy for a British agent.



(novel), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Harold Pinter ...
Uncle Benny
Francesca Deane
Lola Boorman ...
Sarah Pendel
Rafi Domingo
Teddy, the Reporter
Martin Savage ...
Edgardo Molino ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

panama | spy | tailor | president | canal | See All (126) »


In a place this treacherous, what a good spy needs is a spy of his own.


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality, language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

4 May 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El sastre de Panamá  »

Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,837,068 (USA) (30 March 2001)


$13,491,653 (USA) (6 July 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Brendan Gleeson, who plays Mickie Abraxas, is actually Irish. He dyed his naturally red hair black and wore brown contact lenses to complete his transformation into a Panamanian. 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 »


[first lines]
MI.6 Handler: Panama.
Andrew 'Andy' Osnard: Panama?
MI.6 Handler: Best I could do Andrew. Under the circumstances, given your sins. They were baying for blood.
See more »


References Casablanca (1942) See more »


Two Oceans Salsa
Written and Performed by Dino Nugent
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User Reviews

An atmospheric, well-crafted thriller with actors having an infectiously good time.
24 September 2002 | by (Los Angeles, USA) – See all my reviews

The Tailor of Panama is an atmospheric, well-crafted thriller in which the actors have an infectiously good time with their characters, especially an excellent and hilarious Pierce Brosnan as Andy Osnard, a roguish British spy who is sent to Panama (superbly described as "Casablanca without heroes") to keep out of trouble and get back his government's trust. However, even in post-Cold War diplomacy you have to play the game and earn your wage. The diplomats still have to listen to their sources. Osnard selects British ex-pat tailor Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush) to be his information source, using Pendel's hidden past to get his cooperation. Pendel is well-placed as his wife works for the director of the Panama Canal Company, but he also has friends formerly in the anti-Noriega ranks. Osnard passes on what Pendel tells him to his superiors. These two characters start to spin a web of exciting misinformation that they start to revel in, but this has consequences which escalate beyond their control. The background of Panama, from its "laundromats" (banks) to its seedy nightclubs, suits the characters and the story perfectly, and gives the film an atmospheric richness of the type director Boorman excels in. It is a treat for those who love international political intrigue and who may have traveled or lived in such places. This is a thriller which relies not on hi-tech filmmaking gimmicks (and there are many opportunities to), but on characters interesting enough to follow all the way through the film. It has an old-fashioned feel, and an wry and mischievous humor. Some may see some implausibility in the final conseuences of Osnard's and Pendel's actions, but on the whole the shamless good time they have bring these (almost) anti-heroes to life is infectious. Great fun.

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