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Category:    Home > Reviews > Spy > Thriller > Drama > Comedy > Suspense > Politics > The Tailor Of Panama (Blu-ray)

The Tailor Of Panama (Blu-ray)

 

Picture: B     Sound: B-    Extras: B-     Film: B

 

 

Now that Pierce Brosnan is no longer James Bond, there will always be the question of what would have happened if he had done a more intelligent, grittier, more serious Bond film.  The closest he may ever come to this is sending up the Bond image as a rogue in John Boorman’s underrated adaptation of John Le Carré’s The Tailor Of Panama (2001), being issued in the Blu-ray format in time for people to catch up on it as Casino Royale arrives in Blu-ray and DVD and Layer Cake arrives in Blu-ray from Sony, responsible for this disc too.

 

Andy Osnard (Brosnan) decided he needs help on his latest mission and decides he needs that help from someone who would be least suspected and lowest in profile to get the job done.  He solicits Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush) and expert tailor and maybe the best one around to help him spy on politicians among others as the fate of the Panama Canal may take a dramatic turn.  Harry has a family (including a pre-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe in his first feature film appearance and daughter played by Lola Boorman’s, John’s daughter) and wife (Jamie Lee Curtis in one of her last good acting roles) making for a happy life, though the marriage may be a tad strained.

 

Harry is determined to see what he can do, then starts to wonder what is really going on.  It becomes more suspenseful as it also becomes more diabolically comical, yet never looses its way thanks to the expert direction of Boorman, who could annihilate most directors alive with his talents.  This is a mature, adult work and with the Spy Genre turning to more serious materials, the rest of the world may finally catch up with this terrific film.  Boorman and Andrew Davies co-wrote the exceptional screenplay adaptation and the supporting cast is strong, including Brendan Gleeson, Leonor Varela, Catherine McCormack and writer Harold Pinter as Uncle Benny.

 

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is a mixed transfer, looking like an early HD master at best where messing with the image was ill-advised and may be the same master for the old standard DVD.  Philippe Rousselot, A.F.C., (of Antwone Fisher) did a terrific job shooting the film and this is an improvement over that DVD, but no match for the original 35mm prints.  The film is one of the nicer and more natural-looking Super 35mm shoots for scope, so there was no reason to mis-tweak it to begin with.  It looks like a British production and processing is the reason, despite a French Director Of Photography.  As long as the film materials have been kept properly, an improved transfer later down the line should be very easy.

 

The old DVD had the theatrical Dolby Digital 5.1 EX mix, though the DVD fails to note the EX.  There was not much in the way of any .1 there, so the PCM and lesser Dolby mixes here are labeled 5.0, with little EX in the Dolby version.  The PCM is the better of all the soundtracks the film has been issued in on home video, but there is more distortion in some of the dialogue than I remember from the theatrical presentation, suggesting the audio and video materials here are both a generation down and/or were tampered with unnecessarily.

 

Extras include an alternate ending with optional commentary, Brosnan/Rush interviews in a piece called The Perfect Fit, trailers and another terrific audio commentary by Boorman (Zardoz is another one) that is exceptionally informative, repeating all the extras from the old DVD.  Though this is not the best Blu-ray yet, it is one of the better back titles so far with performance that is good, but could be better.  Don’t miss it.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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