Harry Pendel, a Cockney ex-con who has reinvented himself as a popular tailor to the rich and powerful of Panama, is famous for his storytelling as well as his suits-but this time, his tales carry lethal repercussions. Preyed upon by ruthless, seductive British spy Osnard, Harry spins a yarn that inadvertently sets off a series of events to destroy everything he values most in his life.
Like its title character, Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush), a nervous suit-maker mixed up in some dangerous geopolitical skulduggery, "The Tailor of Panama" leads a double life. The film is at once a competent, somewhat contrived espionage thriller and a dizzily clever parody of spy-movie conventions. Pierce Brosnan, who has played James Bond, here subverts the 007 mystique, playing a sleazy, cynical MI-6 agent who bullies poor Harry into cooking up tales of intrigue that he can send back to the home office. The picture's plot sometimes hangs baggily around the characters, but the verve and intelligence of the cast is matched by John Boorman's wily sense of craftsmanship. — A. O. Scott
2001-03-30 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of The Tailor of Panama