After the mighty oomph of "The General" (his last film), not to mention the early dazzle of both "Point Blank" and "Deliverance", expectations were riding high for John Boorman's "The Tailor of Panama", also because the novel's author, John le Carré, part-wrote the script.
Unfortunately, what we are given is a never-thrilling, occasionally amusing picture which wheezes badly, like a pig which has been shot but refuses to die. This is due mainly to great lumps of conversation which Boorman kills further by nailing his camera to the floor. Now and again the chat does catch fire, and the picture becomes charged, but these are only temporary excitements in a storyline in which there is little action, and from which there is absolutely no escape from the endless verbal encounters between Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush. Brosnan is Andy Osnard, a hard-headed, boorish British spy who has been booted out of mainstream espionage only to find himself in Panama, where he has to stop the Canal from falling into the wrong hands. He is nudged, so he thinks, towards his goal by Cockney ex-con Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush), Panama's classiest tailor and a full-time fantasist whose tall tales of politics and crime cause an international crisis to erupt.
Rush has by far the most satisfying role here and he intelligently places Harry on a line somewhere between treachery and niceness. Brosnan, for his part, is saddled with playing a glib, dated sexist (who lacks Bond's light touch and charm) for whom a British diplomat (Catherine McCormack), despite her deep-freeze persona, ludicrously falls. None of the actors is helped by lines which sound like they belong to le Carré, not to any actual character. For example "Where's your patriotism?" and "I had it out in prison, without anaesthetic".