The Tailor of Panama (2001) starring Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush, Jamie Lee Curtis, Leonor Varela, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Radcliffe, Lola Boorman directed by John Boorman Movie Review

The Tailor of Panama (2001)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Jamie Lee Curtis and Pierce Brosnan in The Tailor of Panama (2001)

Suits You Sir

Pierce Brosnan is both a hindrance and a blessing when it comes to "The Tailor of Panama" an adaptation of a John le Carré novel. The hindrance part is pretty obvious because having played James Bond it is hard to get your head around him playing the roguish agent in this, dispatched in disgrace to Panama who uses people for his own good. But then at the same time the fact it is Brosnan playing something close to Bond's evil twin adds to the black comedy of this spy drama. It is partly because of this and the fact that as a spy movie "The Tailor of Panama" is nothing which you probably expect from the genre that you really need to watch it twice so that the second time around you can focus on the actual storyline rather than Brosnan playing a dirty agent.

Having been reprimanded for bedding an ambassador's mistress, agent Andy Osnard (Pierce Brosnan - The World Is Not Enough) is dispatched to Panama to dig around in who really has the power when it comes to the Panama Canal. And in order to do so Andy turns the screw on tailor Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush - House on Haunted Hill) because his wife works for the canal director and Harry has some secrets, a huge debt and a criminal past which no one knows about. Andy offers him financial reward if he will keep feeding him information from important customers as well as secret documents his wife brings home. But with Harry's finances on the up thanks to Andy's investment he starts spinning him a pack of lies with Andy apparently believing it all.

Daniel Radcliffe, Lola Boorman and Geoffrey Rush in The Tailor of Panama (2001)

I am sure you have watched spy movies before but "The Tailor of Panama" pretty much turns everything you have come to expect from a spy movie on its head. That means things are not what they seem and characters we would expect to be something are in fact the complete opposite, such as a British Ambassador not averse to taking a back hander. It takes a lot of getting use to because whilst we have this intrigue as to what is what and who is screwing who it is done so often in a very playful manner and with out the use of action.

Now that brings me to Pierce Brosnan because as already mentioned he is a hindrance and a blessing. It is hard to get out of your head Brosnan's association with being James Bond and watching him play it dirty, a self satisfying user of people is hard to get use to. It is why you need to watch "The Tailor of Panama" twice so the second time around you are ready for Brosnan playing the equivalent to Bond's evil twin, or if you like if James Bond when to the school of etiquette Andy Osnard learned his trade on the streets of London. But then whilst it is hard to get use to watching Brosnan play a dirty agent is also a lot of fun, from his amusing turn of phrase, the way he manipulates Harry to moments of black comedy none more so when he camps it up in a gay night club. In the end it is Brosnan who makes the movie so entertaining because he also makes us question everything he does.

But at the same time we have Geoffrey Rush playing Harry, the tailor with an ability to lie as if he believed what he said himself. It is again a comical character, not all out comedy but slightly over the top and it takes some getting use to but then it adds to the movies playfulness and intrigue. In fact whilst we have this spiral of lies as the basis of the story "The Tailor of Panama" is really about all the characters and the performances with Brendan Gleeson as drunk Mickie delivering many a laugh yet playing it straight. Oh and for the sharp eyed fans of Harry Potter that is a young Daniel Radcliffe as Harry's son.

What this all boils down to is that The Tailor of Panama" is a very different sort of spy thriller, a playful movie which turns the genre on its head with Pierce Brosnan playing a more comical and darker version of James Bond. It does take time to get use to and it is hard not to be distracted by the characters playing against type but it is well worth watching a couple of times to fully enjoy it.