Women have been MI.6. agent Andy Osnard's weakness. As punishment for being caught sleeping with the wrong woman on his last posting in Spain, Andy is relegated to the global backwater of Panama as his next field assignment. Although nothing is happening there on the surface, Panama is still seen as having global importance due to the canal, with something always possible to rock the boat as seen by the recent history of the corrupt regime of Manuel Noriega. The advice of his superior is to co-opt one of the only few hundred British nationals living there to act as an informant for pay. Who Andy chooses is Harry Pendel, a men's suits tailor with Savile Row credentials through his now deceased business partner Arthur Braithwaite. This choice is because of Harry's client list, he the tailor to the elite and powerful, including the Panamanian president, who may treat him like the proverbial "bartender" or "hairdresser" confidante, and because his American wife, Louisa, works in a senior ...Written by
Good, entertaining and worthwhile, but not quite great
Geoffrey Rush is excellent as Harry, an Englishman with a sadly shady past who has re- invented himself in Panama as the best tailor in the country, making clothes for the rich and politically powerful. Into his world comes Osnard, played by Pierce Brosnan. A morally corrupt, self-serving MI6 spy, sent to Panama as a last chance after seducing a Euro diplomats wife.
Many were bowled over by the irony of casting Brosnan, so associated with James Bond, as this much realer, creepier Bond alter ego. A man who is handsome, and self-confident, but whose endless seduction of women seems smarmy not sexy, and who delights in screwing other people while profiting himself.
For me the casting was actually problematic. Brosnon's terrific, but the irony is so distractingly obvious, that it pulled me out of the story, and made me think too much about film and our hero images instead of simply accepting the character. Beyond that, Osnard is drawn a little too broadly for my taste. He's so transparent, I have a hard time he gets anyone to trust him even for a moment. If his inner self-serving pig were a bit better hidden, it might have given the audience more to unravel, and make other characters' willingness to do his bidding a bit easier to buy.
The mix of tones also was a bit of a misfire for me. Never quite darkly funny enough to ascend into true satire, but certainly never edgy enough to be taken seriously, there's a lack of danger here. Unlike 'Dr. Strangelove', we never really think Harry and Osnard's games will reduce Panama to a pile of rubble, and the intimation of it seems false and a bit silly.
Yet, all that complaining is because the movie is good enough, smart enough, brave enough and entertaining enough that I felt frustrated it didn't quite work as brilliantly as is should. But I'd certainly still recommend it, in spite of my long winded misgivings, and I'm also willing to give it another look.
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