Movie Review: “The November Man” – Bond. Ja–NOPE

Written by Jesse Gelinas September 02, 2014

Pierce Brosnan in "The November Man"

I guess he’s a pretty cool guy

It’s been over a decade since Pierce Brosnan graciously stepped out of James Bond’s shoes. And though we no longer know how he likes his martinis, he’s apparently longed to return to the espionage fold. With the critical success of “The Matador” a few years back, I was intrigued and hopeful to see Brosnan return as another irreverent killer. Alas, “The November Man” is not the film I’d expected, or wanted.

“The November Man” is the story of retired CIA operative, Peter Devereaux (Brosnan). Sent back into the breach for one last job, he soon finds himself pitted against his former employers, including his former protege (Luke Bracey). He’s forced to protect a beautiful social worker (Olga Kurylenko), so she can lead him to evidence indicting a war criminal with his eyes on the Presidential office of Russia. There’s a few twists and turns, and most of them you’ll see coming a mile off. Of course, there’s a mole in the CIA and Devereaux can’t trust anyone. It’s full of tired old cliches, like most spy films. Unfortunately, they’re the film’s central focus.

“The fact is you’re a blunt instrument at best.”

The film must be forgiven some of its faults due to an obviously tight budget, particularly for an action film. Brosnan’s own company, Irish DreamTime supposedly picked up the bill. The car chases are choppy and awkward, and same goes for the shootouts. There’s a few decent fistfights that I actually enjoyed. Brosnan manages to hold his own against a younger, more fit cast. What I can’t forgive is the shoddy writing. The story is based on the novel “There Are No Spies”, and it’s an odd choice for the first (and probably only) film to be shot of the series. It’s a tired old story, regurgitated by every spy writer since the Cold War ended. With a tighter script and some better dialogue, I might’ve been able to overlook the familiar plot. Apart from a handful of decent one-liners, the writing is just bland and forgettable.

Luke Bracey in "The November Man"

Sean Bean is looking younger and younger every year

Brosnan himself is still fun to watch. He carries that familiar charm with him into the role, even though it’s a far cry from the Bond we knew all those years ago. Devereaux is angry, vulgar, violent, and at times sadistic. But, he’s damn handsome and has the moral high ground against a bunch of war criminals, so here here! The rest of the cast is nothing special. Luke Bracey as the young protege-turned-adversary leaves much to be desired. Though I must say, this is the first of Olga Kurylenko’s roles to actually impress me. Perhaps she is an actress worth watching after all.

“Information is worthless; that changes everyday. We collect people.”

Sadly, “The November Man” is not up to snuff with today’s action thrillers. For espionage and intrigue, “A Most Wanted Man” blows it away. For action and suspense, any Bond or Bourne film will top it. Pierce Brosnan is trying to prove he can still hang with the heavy hitters, and I’m not arguing. I thoroughly enjoy seeing him back on the saddle. That said, this vehicle isn’t going to carry him far. With a better script and a more robust budget, this could’ve been a fine film. As it stands, it’s a half-decent genre flick that barely registers against today’s standards.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Poster for "The November Man"

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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