Originally slated to be directed by Oliver Stone with Al Pacino in the title role, NORIEGA was put on the back burner as Mr. Stone directed NIXON. Showtime finally produced the film's excellent script, landing Bob Hoskins to play Noriega. Taking place during the last years of General Noriega's rule over Panama, NORIEGA focuses as much on the dictator's eccentricities as the political situation in Panama at the time. The film begins as one of Noriega's chief critics and enemies is found decapitated in the jungle, angering and energizing Noriega's opposition. Noriega, however, doesn't seem to care much about revolution, and he goes about his daily business of attending to his pet parrot, his mistress, and trotting off to Switzerland for facials. The film ends, of course, with the US invasion of Panama in 1989, in which the US used bright lights and loud music to drive Noriega from his sanctuary. Both an extremely funny farce and a revealing look at politics in Panama and the US, including some rather suspect dealings by George Bush Sr., NORIEGA is a relentlessly entertaining biopic.
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