The Tailor of Panama

Dir: John Boorman
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush, Jamie Lee Curtis, Brendan Gleeson

Not what I was expecting from spymaster John Le Carre, whose book this was based on, and who helped out on the adaptation. This is as much black comedy as spy thriller, and closer to David Mamet or even Dr. Strangelove territory. Brosnan is Osnard, a shady British agent, sent to Panama for his sins, who uses the past of tailor-to-the-elite Harry Pendel (Rush), forcing him to gather intelligence. Pendel, however, is not entirely reliable, and is using Osnard just as much as he is being used. But the tales he spins are plausible enough to career out of control - and that's where the fun starts. It takes a while to get into the film; Brosnan is consciously playing anti-007 (there's even a gratuitous "Mr. Connery" reference), Rush looks like he's come straight from The Fast Show, and Curtis largely reprises her "my husband is a what?" role from True Lies. Once they get past this, things improve, with the highlight probably Pendel's incorporation of a porn movie into his tales, Usual Suspects-style. It's great fun to watch things spiral out of hand, with everyone keen to believe what they want, rather than the truth, and Osnard sitting back and stoking the flames where necessary. No gadgets and no gunfire, but undoubtedly closer to how the world really works than Bond. Keep an eye open for the kid playing Pendel's son; it's his movie debut, but his next role would be more memorable...and feature glasses and a lighting-slash scar on his forehead. Yep, it's Daniel Radcliffe!


Suits you, sir...
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