Synopsis: Code named ‘The November Man’; Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) is an extremely dangerous and highly trained ex-CIA agent, who is lured out of quiet retirement on a very personal mission. He must protect valuable witness, Alice Fournier, (Olga Kurylenko) who could expose the truth behind a decades old conspiracy. He soon discovers this assignment makes him a target of his former friend and CIA protege David Mason (Luke Bracey). With growing suspicions of a mole in the agency, there is no one Devereaux can trust, no rules and no holds barred.
Release Date: August 27, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
After more than a decade away from the action genre, former James Bond Pierce Brosnan makes his triumphant return in The November Man, a film he also helped produce. This half-cocked, undercooked spy thriller tries its best to leverage Brosnan’s “cool guy with an AARP card” factor without exception or prejudice. Unfortunately, although The November Man‘s intentions are clearly noble, its execution is sorely lacking. What may have been envisioned as a return to form for Brosnan is instead a dull, convoluted mess of a movie where very little makes sense.
Brosnan plays Peter Devereaux, the titular November Man in our film. Devereaux is a retired CIA operative who is thrust back into the business after some old friends get caught up in bad schemes. He tries his best to lend a helping hand, but in the end Devereaux uncovers a little too much information and finds himself a major target for our own government, a corrupt Russian politician, and a former protege (played by Luke Bracey). It’s the typical “wrong place at the wrong time” scenario, where the deeper Brosnan’s character goes the more enemies he attracts.
Aside from the main draw of seeing Brosnan on the big screen, The November Man offers very little to the average moviegoer. Its story is a cliched mess of overused CIA tropes (the secret op gone bad, the teacher hunted by the student, the nondescript assassin) and the characters are thinly veiled caricatures whose motivations are mostly unclear. Even the film’s action, in addition to being unnecessarily violent, fails to offer up more than generic excitement, fulfilling only a base level requirement.
Brosnan is a genuine standout as Devereaux, if only because he broods and sneers his way through every scene. This is the type of character you expect to see from an older action star, and Brosnan relishes the opportunity. His character is clearly the most fully realized of the bunch and the most interesting; it’s just a shame the rest of the film lacks any of that punch.
Had the film gone through a few extra revisions it might have coalesced into something a little more compelling. Scattered throughout The November Man are interesting ideas and plot points, but the film meanders too often for those individual high points to stand out. With a little more focus, and a little fat trimming, the film might have hit a passable spy thriller note. As it stands, however, it pays far too much lip service to story beats that are wholly unnecessary.
The November Man is the quintessential B-movie thriller. It’s a shameless play for the Liam Neeson/ Taken crowd that uses its star to distract from its shortcomings. And although Pierce Brosnan is admittedly great in the lead role, the rest of the film is so confused that it’s hard to escape feelings of boredom. There’s a clear distinction between crafting a multilayered plot and packing in a ton of needless story beats, and The November Man is lousy with the latter. Only the most die-hard fans of Pierce Brosnan should even consider this film, and the rest should save their money.
Like the movie as a whole, the action in The November Man fails to excite. There are a handful of shootouts and chase sequences peppered throughout the 110-minutes, but they are as derivative as the film’s eye roll-worthy Russian roulette scene. Where the plot at least tries to offer something unique, the action in The November Man barely even tries at all. It creates a B-movie action checklist and then goes line by line on autopilot. And don’t go in expecting Brosnan to do anything other than fire off a few bullets, punch a few faces, and scowl a whole lot; he’s clearly not the action star he once was. That being said, if you like your action needlessly violent, then the film might get a few cheers. But even that’s a stretch.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Roger Donaldson
- Screenwriter(s): Michael FinchKarl Gajdusek
- Cast: Olga Kurylenko (Alice Fournier)Pierce Brosnan (Peter Devereaux)Luke Bracey (David Mason) Eliza Taylor (Sarah)Will Patton (Perry Weinstein)
- Editor(s): John Gilbert
- Cinematographer: Romain Lacourbas
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Marco Beltrami
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA