Review

The Tailor of Panama Review

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Apr 25, 2001 | 9:47am EDT

Brosnan he of dapper duds and sophisticated accent here plays the Anti-Bond Andy Osnard. Osnard is a rude crude dishonored MI-6 operative who is so detestable (boffing an ambassador's wife is the last straw) his boss ships him out-of-sight out-of-mind to Panama on his last assignment. Rumors are swirling that the Panama Canal might be sold to enemies of the West and it's up to Osnard to get the lowdown before it's too late. He hooks up with someone privy to such info a tailor hired by high-level Panamanian movers and shakers. It helps that the tailor is indigent and willing to deal - but how much does he really know and how much is he just inventing to swindle himself a few pesos? Whereas the typical cinema baddie is as unpleasant to look at as he is to watch Brosnan's urbanity and undeniable good looks make him all the more contemptible as the lecherous corrupt almost-villain Osnard. (How refreshingly non-Bond of him to hang out in gay bars and solicit prostitutes.) Rush complements Brosnan with whom he shares the screen throughout most of this movie as the spineless sell-out tailor Pendel who is torn between his family and friendship loyalties and his mercenary failings. A poorly cast Jamie Lee Curtis as Pendel's wife might have been better if she weren't so underdeveloped - er her character that is. This movie might have worked better had it been played like a real spoof on spy flicks particularly one based on a Le Carré story - to see Brosnan in a slapstick anti-Bond comedy would have been priceless (though probably against his contract). Instead it never figures out what direction it's going: borderline black comedy or political intrigue drama? In true British fashion the movie's subtle tones might escape American audiences who like their spies on fast boats in speeding vehicles and employing high-tech gadgets. Highbrow critics will no doubt give this one high marks but the average moviegoer may find the movie is so subtle it's just dull.

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