Based on the 1996 novel, this is a mixture of thriller and black comedy. Harry Pendel is the tailorto the powerful of Panama. Harry is known for his storytelling and suits, but soon his tales carry lethal repercussions. Harry spins a yarn that is not only taken as truth, but sets off a chain of events that threatens everything he values most in life.
Tailors are the secret-keepers of the power elite; customize fine apparel for the rich and powerful, and you'll hear things only whispered in the halls of government. Such is the sly conceit of The Tailor of Panama
, coadapted by John le Carré from his own novel, and directed by John Boorman with a delicious spin on the traditions of the spy genre. As British MI-6 agent Andy Osnard, Pierce Brosnan qualifies as James Bond's black-sheep sibling, viewing women only in terms of sexual conquest and conducting spy business by his own flexible set of rules. Banished to Panama to pay for recent indiscretions, Andy connects with Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush), a British ex-convict who's built a lucrative cover as tailor to Panama's highest officials. With the coveted Panama canal now under local control, Andy's arrived to see what Harry knows about the canal's pending multinational sale.
As Andy observes, Panama is "Casablanca
without heroes," and that's precisely how Boorman depicts it: a melting pot of greed, ambition, and backroom maneuvering, where Andy can bed an embassy official (Catherine McCormack) while squeezing information from Harry, who concocts a phony "silent opposition" that puts British and American forces on full alert. Harry's wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) is pulled into the scenario by Andy's ruthless scheming, and The Tailor of Panama
reveals how a simple fabrication can provoke trigger-happy forces around the globe. Part comedy and part political horror thriller--with a tragic supporting role for Brendan Gleason, from Boorman's The General
--this is old-fashioned spy stuff made new by le Carré's inventive plotting and keen ear for the dialogue of rogues. --Jeff Shannon