John LeCarre's spy thriller is brought to the big screen. A British spy is banished to Panama after having an affair with an ambassador's mistress. Once there he makes connection with a local tailor with a criminal past and connections to all of the top political and gangster figures in Panama. The tailor also has a wife, who works for the canal administrator, and a huge debt. The spy's mission is to learn what the President intends to do with the Panama Canal, but he's really in business for himself, blackmailing the tailor into spinning a fantastic tale about the canal being sold to China and former mercenaries ready to topple the current government. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
Good, entertaining and worthwhile, but not quite great
Geoffrey Rush is excellent as Harry, an Englishman with a sadly shady past who has re- invented himself in Panama as the best tailor in the country, making clothes for the rich and politically powerful. Into his world comes Osnard, played by Pierce Brosnan. A morally corrupt, self-serving MI6 spy, sent to Panama as a last chance after seducing a Euro diplomats wife.
Many were bowled over by the irony of casting Brosnan, so associated with James Bond, as this much realer, creepier Bond alter ego. A man who is handsome, and self-confident, but whose endless seduction of women seems smarmy not sexy, and who delights in screwing other people while profiting himself.
For me the casting was actually problematic. Brosnon's terrific, but the irony is so distractingly obvious, that it pulled me out of the story, and made me think too much about film and our hero images instead of simply accepting the character. Beyond that, Osnard is drawn a little too broadly for my taste. He's so transparent, I have a hard time he gets anyone to trust him even for a moment. If his inner self-serving pig were a bit better hidden, it might have given the audience more to unravel, and make other characters' willingness to do his bidding a bit easier to buy.
The mix of tones also was a bit of a misfire for me. Never quite darkly funny enough to ascend into true satire, but certainly never edgy enough to be taken seriously, there's a lack of danger here. Unlike 'Dr. Strangelove', we never really think Harry and Osnard's games will reduce Panama to a pile of rubble, and the intimation of it seems false and a bit silly.
Yet, all that complaining is because the movie is good enough, smart enough, brave enough and entertaining enough that I felt frustrated it didn't quite work as brilliantly as is should. But I'd certainly still recommend it, in spite of my long winded misgivings, and I'm also willing to give it another look.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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