Directed by John Boorman, starring Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush, Jamie Lee Curtis and Brendan Gleeson
After the low key monochrome of 'The General', John Boorman has jumped ship with a bigger canvas for 'The Tailor of Panama', bringing 'General' star Brendan Gleeson with him and picking up commercial and critical heavyweights like Brosnan and Rush for a tale of lies and lust at the gateway to North America.
In a wickedly wry take on his regular gig, Brosnan plays Andy Osnard, a disgraced MI5 operative whose under-the-covers antics have found him exiled to Panama to see out his tenure. With a nightclub and bank on every corner, Osnard fits right in and enlists ex-pat tailor Harry Pendel (Rush) to suit him up for all occasions. Harry it transpires is not quite the distinguished gentleman he likes to think - he's an ex-con who befriended political rebels like Mickie Abraxas (Gleeson) during the Noriega regime yet can still count on the custom of the ruling elite. But with Osnard more intent on causing trouble than staying out of it and Harry's talent with a rule equalled only by his gift for fiction, it's just a matter of time until the new arrival and old chancer are caught up in the hustle of a lifetime.
It's a testament to Boorman's skill as a director that he can create an exciting espionage thriller that never once back peddles to action sequences to keep you interested or further the plot. Adapted from John Le Carré's novel of the same name, Panama is a spin city like no other where people go to escape the past only to discover that reinvention under the sun carries a high price. And as Pendel finds himself having to lie more and more just to keep on the right side of Osnard, Boorman piles on the layers of intrigue until you're not sure who's playing who or who'll blink first. There's black humour aplenty as Brosnan fashions Osnard into a low budget and no class James Bond while his comedic foil Pendel isn't so much Deep Throat as Hoarse Throat, the high pitched croak and edgy moves always suggesting that he's going to lose the run of himself in some style. With Gleeson as the (rum) punch-drunk refusenik and Curtis as Pendel's doting but bored wife, it's a great ensemble cast that restores some much-needed style and suss to a dog-eared genre.
Funny, frisky and always on the right side of plausible. Mission accomplished.