24 September 2002 | RichShep
An atmospheric, well-crafted thriller with actors having an infectiously good time.
The Tailor of Panama is an atmospheric, well-crafted thriller in which the actors have an infectiously good time with their characters, especially an excellent and hilarious Pierce Brosnan as Andy Osnard, a roguish British spy who is sent to Panama (superbly described as "Casablanca without heroes") to keep out of trouble and get back his government's trust. However, even in post-Cold War diplomacy you have to play the game and earn your wage. The diplomats still have to listen to their sources. Osnard selects British ex-pat tailor Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush) to be his information source, using Pendel's hidden past to get his cooperation. Pendel is well-placed as his wife works for the director of the Panama Canal Company, but he also has friends formerly in the anti-Noriega ranks. Osnard passes on what Pendel tells him to his superiors. These two characters start to spin a web of exciting misinformation that they start to revel in, but this has consequences which escalate beyond their control. The background of Panama, from its "laundromats" (banks) to its seedy nightclubs, suits the characters and the story perfectly, and gives the film an atmospheric richness of the type director Boorman excels in. It is a treat for those who love international political intrigue and who may have traveled or lived in such places. This is a thriller which relies not on hi-tech filmmaking gimmicks (and there are many opportunities to), but on characters interesting enough to follow all the way through the film. It has an old-fashioned feel, and an wry and mischievous humor. Some may see some implausibility in the final conseuences of Osnard's and Pendel's actions, but on the whole the shamless good time they have bring these (almost) anti-heroes to life is infectious. Great fun.