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Samuel L. Jackson,
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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>
When Andy is dancing with Francesca for the first time at the outdoor bar/restaurant, her sunglasses at one point are almost completely falling off the back of her head; when the shot moves to close up, they are back on the top of her head. 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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Geoffrey Rush fabricates a revolutionary force for Pierce Brosnan that pushes the Americans to invasion of Panama
Graham Greene did "Our Man in Havana", which is the story of an agent of MI6 in Havana who fabricates intelligence. It's a superb and thorough-going comedy-farce with Alec Guinness in the lead, supported by Noel Coward, Ralph Richardson and Ernie Kovacs. Directed by Carol Reed, a movie doesn't get much better.
In "The Tailor of Panama", we have an effort in the same direction. An MI6 agent banished to Panama, played wickedly by Pierce Brosnan, blackmails the tailor (Geoffrey Rush) into supplying him with false information so that he can rebuild his reputation and get some loot. Rush's wife, Jamie Lee Curtis, doesn't know about his checkered background and Brosnan threatens Rush with that revelation.
Rush is simply terrific in the lead, making more of every bit of even remotely comic material than would seem possible. That's a good thing, because the comic material is lacking, as compared with "Our Man in Havana" where it permeated the movie. Where Guinness was more or less on his own, here much more time goes to the non-comic Brosnan who has to keep jabbing at Rush (and also handling his seductions) and the other British diplomats in order to keep Rush's nose to the fabrication grindstone.
It comes across rather heavy-handed at times. The most satirical portion comes when Rush and Brosnan manage to induce an American invasion of Panama to retake the country. That is the point at which the false intelligence is sopped up by the Americans, whose deep pockets will support a revolution by a group that they can barely identify, indeed, not at all directly. One CIA guy wonders if the leader of this fictional "Silent Opposition" is presidential material! The climactic part of the farce tries to move along rapidly and lightly, but does tend to clunk along a bit.
I like Brosnan's acting, his on screen persona being a kind of slick and devious guy, which he has played in a number of movies. But one thing he cannot do is dance. He does seem to be working at it in this movie and not fully into the role. His comic acting needs a bit of work, whereas Rush is 100%. Jamie Lee Curtis is rather stiff and seems out of place.
I think the script lacked a comic character that went through and through it, and the direction could not or did not overcome that. Nevertheless, it's a quite enjoyable flic, just not in the top tier. It's nowhere near a Peter Sellers masterpiece.
I should certainly mention that the place chosen, Panama, and its history was not really amenable to a light treatment. The movie should be praised for showing the results of the earlier devastating U.S. attack of this defenseless country and also for showing the U.S. caricature of Noriega. In passing it mentions the disruptions caused to poor people, but not the civilian deaths and detention camps. Then it rather takes the sting out of this by focusing on the banking, lawyer and drug interests in Panama and associating them with Noriega, as if this justified an invasion. The film sends all these oddly mixed messages.
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