Pierce Brosnan is beginning to look a bit long in the tooth for action-oriented spy antics. After all, it’s been 12 years since Die Another Day, Brosnan’s last run as the fabled 007.
Undeterred by passing time, Brosnan dives into a pit full of Eastern Europen mayhem to play CIA agent Peter Devereaux in The November Man, a loose adaptation of a 1986 novel by Bill Granger.
R for strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use
For 27 years, Robert Denerstein was the film critic at The Rocky Mountain News. Read more of Robert's reviews at Denerstein Unleashed.
After a short prologue set in Montenegro in 2008, the movie leaps forward to a time when a retired Devereaux is called back into service by a tough-talking CIA boss (Bill Smitrovich), a guy who prides himself on his grasp of the world’s brutal realities.
Devereaux’s assignment: To travel to Moscow to help with the escape of a Russian woman (Mediha Musliovic) who supposedly has the goods on a Putin-like Russian (Lazar Ristovski) who’s about to take over the country.
In the process, Devereaux gets crosswise with the agency, and finds himself burdened by a far-fetched and overly busy plot. During the next 108 minutes, Devereaux must battle treachery within the CIA, take down an aspiring Russian baddie, save the life of a younger woman (Olga Kurylenko) and remind his former protege (Luke Bracey) that the old man still has it.
That’s a big agenda, and director Roger Donaldson (The World’s Fastest Indian (2005), Dante’s Peak (1997) and No Way Out (1987)) shuffles through it without making us care about much of the resultant intrigues. Donaldson whips up tension here and there, but doesn’t have much going for him other than the icy gravitas and sudden angry outbursts Brosnan brings to a role that strands him somewhere between hard-core action and worldly savvy — with a trace of sadism thrown in for seasoning.
We’ve seen so many of these kinds of movies that just about everything in Novembmer Man feels second-hand.
The movie does accomplish one thing, though: It makes us long for the end of summer, and the start of a new movie season.
Repeat after me: We’re almost there. We’re almost there.