Scott Hardie | August 31, 2001
Saw "The Tailor of Panama" today with Kelly and some friends. It's like the 1999 "The Thomas Crown Affair," but good.

Pierce Brosnan plays a British intelligence agent (sent from MI.6 no less) assigned to Panama's seedy underworld. Geoffrey Rush plays a former criminal and resistance leader who hides out under the guise of a tailor in Panama City. The two of them strike a deal early on, information for money, and before long they're double-crossing each other like old enemies.

There's quite a lot to like in the film. The performances are very good (I wonder if it took Pierce Brosnan one minute or two to get his character down), and Jamie Lee Curtis, costarring with her prominent breasts, has a juicy role as Rush's rightfully suspicious wife. Also, the setting is used to great effect. The outdoor scene were filmed in Panama, and there are a lot of rolling shots of scenery and people, and a lot of local music and noise. It makes you want to visit there. We also get a prolonged shot of Manuel Noriega's face, which is always a special kind of treat.

One downside is that the movie keeps referencing "Casablanca," and keeps reminding us how much better that classic is. Good movies shouldn't reference great ones. The plot is also laid on a little thick, but if you pay attention to the dialogue, it is not hard to follow. A knowledge of the history of Panama is not necessary, but very helpful. I guess the worst part, for me, was that I'd seen it all before. I'd seen Brosnan's character in "The Thomas Crown Affair" and Curtis's character in "True Lies." Rush's character reminded me a great deal of Garak from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," except significantly less intelligent and resourceful. If you haven't seen these movies, the characters may seem fresh to you.

"The Tailor of Panama" comes out on video September 11th, and it's worth a rental, because it's not crap like most other movies this year. But pay attention, and you might want to look up Panama in a current encyclopedia beforehand.


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