Based on the book by John Le Carre, THE TAILOR OF PANAMA
is a dark comedy that tackles the issues of espionage
and government ineptitude surrounding the political hotspot,
the Panama Canal.
Banished to Panama for his transgressions, MI-6 man Andy
Osnard (Brosnan) finds himself posted in diplomatic no-man's-land.
With little to do, Osnard begins to weave a tangled web
of deceit with help from an unwitting tailor (Rush).
In the hopes of feeding lofty tales of impending purchase
of the Panama Canal by the Chinese, Japanese, and French
to British officials, Osnard must find a man on the inside.
As a tailor to various high-ranking Panamanian officials,
Harry Pendel seems a perfect candidate, and his sordid
past is an unending source for blackmail which Osnard
uses to his advantage.
Pendel concocts a wonderful story regarding the imminent
take-over of the canal, along with a post-Noreiga uprising
from those still reeling from the brutal treatment of
their former oppressor. The British embassy and the American
government seem more than willing to swallow all of the
tall tales presented to them and so ensues a story of
THE TAILOR OF PANAMA is brilliantly crafted, with an
ironic sensibility which mocks both spy film conventions
and political shortcomings. Brosnan is smirk-inducing
as the cunningly aggressive MI-6 man, who has a way with
the ladies and habit of pushing his luck a little too
The most compelling and humorous moments of the movie
come about during the hush-hush encounters between Osnard
and Pendel. Osnard has a way of disconcerting his nervous
"informant" by arranging meetings at places
from gay dance clubs to shady motels. The two seem blissfully
aware of the game of lies in which they are both entangled,
especially Osnard who has long since lost his moral compass.
Throughout the film, Pendel struggles with his glaring
weaknesses to keep his place in respectable society, and
keep his sordid past history from loving wife Louisa (Lee
Curtis). He wants nothing more than to succeed at the
game he has involved himself in, and help those dear to
his heart, such as former anti-Noriega rebels Mickie (Gleeson)
and assistant Marta (Varela).
Although at times the plot seems to be get lost in the
incessant lies told by various characters and government
officials, the strength of both Brosnan's and Rush's performances
alleviate any unease on the part of the audience. THE
TAILOR OF PANAMA provides an intriguing story with tragically
flawed characters and incorporates twisted humor for good