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Cole Hauser barely saves Panama from mediocrity

Mark Neveldine directs Cole Hauser in the fact-based actioner Panama from Saban films. William Barber & Daniel Adams pen the film's script set during the political upheaval of 1989 Panama. When the U.S. is on the brink of invading Panama, Becker, a former marine (Hauser), is hired by a CIA operative Stark (Mel Gibson), for a top-secret arms trade mission. Alone and among the most dangerous arms dealers, Becker learns the true nature of political power.

For the last four seasons, Cole Hauser has gained mainstream with his scene-stealing performances as Rip on the series Yellowstone. However, ever since his antagonistic turn as Scott Moss, the leader of a group of skinheads on a college campus in 1995's Higher Learning, I've considered myself a fan of his work. Hauser has the talent to come across as an alpha male while avoiding chauvinism. While primarily known for some time splaying bad guys, I often enjoy seeing Hauser take on the role of the good guy, which he does here.

The filmmakers open the film up with a voiceover from Mel Gibson's character of Stark that gives us some background information on Becker before introducing the audience to him. In no time, Becker finds himself on a mission and hanging out with wealthy playboy Enrique (Mauricio Henao) and romancing Camilla (Kiara Liz).

I want to inform viewers that Panama isn't a non-stop action fest where Hauser spends the entire film breaking necks and walking away from explosions in slow motion. The directors find time to intercut archive news footage and create an atmosphere of fact-based fiction. That said, you should prepare yourself for something more skin to the 2010 George Clooney starring The American and less in the vein of Rambo.

Gibson appears in spurts throughout the film, and honestly, you could swap him out with another actor and have the same movie. The rest of the supporting cast doesn't offer too much either, but Hauser keeps the film moving over ninety-four minutes. While Panama may not open the A-List doors that Hauser deserves, it's another film that highlights his talent.

Final Grade: C+

Panama is streaming now


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