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"The Tailor of Panama"

Directed by John Boorman.
Written by Andrew Davies, John Boorman and John Le Carré.  Based on the novel by Le Carré.
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Release Year:  2001 

Review Date:  4/1/01 


(drum roll, please) 

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I have waited many months, many countless hours spent inside a darkened movie theater, to reach the absolute bottom of my personal viewing displeasure.  And, much like blowing a 22-point lead in a Final Four game, I was crestfallen.  Every time I went to a movie in the two-double oh-one and expected the worst, I only got something just marginal enough to rate a Rental.

Well, the wait is over.  I have found the first Hard Vice-rated film of the year.  And, it wasn't easy; in fact, in selecting "The Tailor of Panama", I expected very good things.

It is important to describe to you what sort of atrocities have to be committed in order for a film to receive my Hard Vice rating.  First, a film has to have reasonably decent actors performing their roles in the worst way possible.  Case in point:  Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush is the star of "The Tailor of Panama"...and, he is awful!!  Maybe because he was playing a whiny, weak-willed tailor named Harry, or maybe it was because the screenwriters tried to make me believe he could be married to the equally-wasted Jamie Lee Curtis.  Either way, he sucked.  Worse yet, Pierce Brosnan is playing yet another smooth, debonair, lady-killing intelligence officer named Andy, and his character is ridiculous.  I give him credit for playing the bad guy for once, but you would think he would try something a little bit different since he is the current James Bond...shit, in this movie, he is playing a spy that works for England's MI6, just like he does in the Bond movies.

Second, the movie has to work in complete opposition to what it is supposed to be trying to do.  I gathered that "The Tailor of Panama" was supposed to be a slick, well-acted comedy-thriller from the one paragraph piece I read about the film before seeing it.  Wrong.  Brosnan's very superior "The Thomas Crown Affair" was slick and cool and sexy at varying times; "The Tailor of Panama" is so clumsy and unfunny at times that it is embarrassing.  And, the only two times I laughed in this film were when Brosnan made references to breasts while in a whorehouse mid-film; I am still not sure the filmmakers intended for that scene to even BE funny.  And, what a *boring* movie!  Even in the oldest and most conservative of spy films, there was at least a chase sequence or some cool information-retrieval sequence; "Sneakers" comes to mind as one of my favorite spy movies if you are looking for something like that.  There is not one single scene in "The Tailor of Panama" that I ever want to see again.

Oh, and third, a Hard Vice-rated movie has to...absolutely HAS TO...have a fucking shitty, stupid, meaningless ending.  The actual film "Hard Vice" has the single-worst ending in the history of cinema...if you can find a copy, I strongly recommend that you watch "Hard Vice" just to see its ending.  Classic.  Other films that hit Hard Vice for me in recent times that have awful endings include "The 13th Warrior", "Mission to Mars", and older films like "Sliver", "Jade", and "Leonard, Part 6."  (Wait:  did I forget "The Avengers"???)  Well, "The Tailor of Panama" has one of those bad endings, with a shitty, fucking stupid last line and a stupid shitty fucking meaning.  (Hey, you think this profanity is bad, you should have heard me right after I watched the movie.)

What is most shocking about all of this is that the movie's screenplay was written by the author of the book that the movie is based on, legend John le Carre.  (He's a legend to somebody, anyway...I don't read.)  If the book is nearly as bad as the movie, I am not sure how he has been writing this long. Avoid this movie at all, or no costs...EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE THIS MOVIE FOR FREE!!!

Rating:  Hard Vice


Comments?  Drop me a line at


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09