The Tailor Of Panama Review

The Film
Based on the John Le Carre bestselling novel, The Tailor Of Panama is a badly acted, poorly scripted and ponderously paced misfire that deposits another classic director of the nineteen seventies completely out of his depth (Polanksi - The Ninth Gate, Kubrick - Eyes Wide Shut). Starring the kiss-of-death guaranteed Pierce Brosnan, a man who has shamelessly destroyed the credibility of Bond and The Thomas Crown Affair has now brought down the career of the creative genius behind Deliverance and Hope And Glory, John Boorman. Brosnan stars as British spy Andy Osnard, a man needing to redeem his career in a diplomatic cul-de-sac that is Panama. Osnard is (much like Bond himself) a thrill-seeker and an obsessive womaniser, and he hatches a plan to lure a British member of the Panamanian community to become his contact for sources of information. The unlucky sole is Harry Pendel (played by the exceptionally gifted Geoffrey Rush), a tailor for the Panamanian rich and famous who learnt his trade in prison and built his profession on the claim of a fake establishment in Saville Row. Osnard is wise to Pendel's fake reputation, and blackmails him into finding out secret political information from his clientele. However, it isn't long before double-crossing and complications arise.

The Tailor Of Panama is a complete mess from start to finish, and there is nothing at all on show that demonstrates a need for commendation. Brosnan's performance is so hammy and wooden that it's a wonder he hasn't found another line of work. Even Geoffrey Rush looks completely subdued, and bear in mind that is the same actor who stole the show in Shine and Elizabeth. Poor Catherine McCormack is obviously extremely desperate for a Hollywood career and she seems suckered into shedding her clothes in every film she appears in, even though her character is completely pointless and should have graced the dirtiest of cutting room floors. Although it is refreshing to see Jamie Lee Curtis back in a leading role as Harry's wife, her role is still underdeveloped and requires more bite. The direction by Boorman shows a severe lacking in ability with regards to extracting acceptable performances from his actors, and at some points the plot moves along at a dead earwig's pace, and is often confused when it comes to its aims (is it serious, or a comedy?). The Tailor Of Panama feels like one of those terrible eighties espionage thrillers starring Michael Caine, such as Half Moon Street. This is quite ironic, considering that Brosnan and Rush appear to have based their roles on the limited range of Caine and presented parodies of the man himself.

The Tailor Of Panama is a weak attempt at making a film that could be very relevant in the twenty-first century. It does have its fans, but these mainly figure amongst American audiences whose overt appreciation of English accents clouds their ability to differentiate between good and bad acting and good and bad scripting. It's woeful, and quite honestly should be avoided.

Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, the picture is quite solid looking and exhibits a nicely coloured visual quality. No blemishes or scratches are present, although you'd expect this with a new release.

Available in Dolby 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 mixes, the sound leaves a lot to be desired. Although the 5.1 mix is obviously better than 2.0 version, it still requires a better balance of channels than is presented. Background noises and music cues appear too overbearing compared to dialogue, and this occurs in both of the mixes.


Director's Commentary: Despite the poor showing of the actual film, the director's commentary by John Boorman is actually quite enjoyable and for most of the time he manages to talk quite fluidly about his experiences with the film. He does have a tendency to become a commentator of the plot on occasions, but on the whole, Boorman's commentary is a worthy extra.

The Perfect Fit: A Conversation With Pierce Brosnan And Geoffrey Rush - Featurette: Another surprisingly good extra, this one being a twenty four minute discussion between Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush in which both discuss their characters and plot and other relevant items. One usually expects this sort of thing to be a heavily edited extended trailer which is often found on DVD releases, but this feature is actually interesting and informative, and should be seen as a flagship for others to follow.

Alternative Ending: Again, another good extra, with the alternative ending being a completely different ending to the one featured in the film, with optional commentary from Boorman explaining why he chose the final version. Usually, alternate endings are a letdown, but on this release it proves to be fascinating stuff.

Original Theatrical Trailer: The trailer makes The Tailor Of Panama seem far tenser and far more erotic than actually is delivered on screen. For good measure, a trailer of Geoffrey Rush's Les Miserables is thrown in.

Filmographies: Standard non-flashy lists of films involving the major cast and crew.

The Tailor Of Panama is a terrible film that doesn't even gain points for effort. However, if you like porrly scripted and badly acted espionage thrillers with a heavy dose of anachronistic eighties filmmaking thrown in, then you'll love this DVD as the extras are first rate, and the audio and visual qualities of the film aren't too bad.

NOTE: The R2 version is practically identical, and a review by Mike Sutton can be found here.

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