The Tailor of Panama

John Le Carre made his fortune by delving into the world of spies. The British novelist’s works include ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ and ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’ and he continues to write stirring espionage tales. Many have been turned into film and TV adaptations with ‘The Tailor of Panama’ being one. In spite of its unusual casting choices, it gamely navigates Le Carre’s shadowy universe with flair.

Reassigned to Panama after several scandals, shady MI6 Agent Andy Osnard (Pierce Brosnan) looks for new opportunities. Andy’s target is equally wayward local tailor Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush). Tailor to Panama’s elite, Andy sees this as a way to have access to the city’s dodgy dealings. When Harry’s wife Louisa (Jamie Lee Curtis) also captures Andy’s attentions, double crosses and Panama’s powerful government loom large in the trio’s uncertain futures.

The best one can say about ‘The Tailor of Panama’ is that it’s never dull. Unlike most Le Carre stories, it plays more like a satirical version of his spy sagas. As soon as you realize that then ‘The Tailor of Panama’ becomes more enjoyable. John Boorman’s eccentric direction also highlights its strange flavour. Coupled with the harsh editing, it ensures you’re glued to what’s happening. Half the film doesn’t work but the other half of great, full of amusing lines and oozing style.

Brosnan, Rush and Curtis make for an unlikely screen trio. Despite that they bring much to their roles with Brosnan having a grand time as an anti-James Bond shyster. The cinematography is a huge plus with Panama’s streets brought to colourfully vivid life.

‘The Tailor of Panama’ is a strange, dream-like movie. It may not be what you expect, which isn’t a bad thing. It often doesn’t work but when it does, it fires. It’s more interesting watching a quirky film than one adhering to formula with a different type of Le Carre story reaching the screen with panache.

Rating out of 10: 6


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