It’s been 12 years since Pierce Brosnan last donned his James Bond tuxedo, but the 61-year-old still has a few spy tricks up his sleeve.
In “The November Man,” Brosnan plays Peter Devereaux, a retired government agent who gets called back in when a former love interest is in trouble. When the mission inevitably goes south, Devereaux finds himself hunted by the US government and the young operative (Luke Bracey) he trained years earlier.
The story, an adaptation of the Bill Granger book, “There Are No Spies,” is fairly by the numbers as far as international spy films go. There are easy comparisons to films like “The Bourne Identity” and “Taken” and though the story has a few twists and turns along the way, they aren’t too surprising. If you’ve seen one spy movie, you are familiar with what kind of clichés these films tend to contain.
One thing that makes the film a little more interesting is that Brosnan’s Devereaux isn’t really a hero or anti-hero by general definition. Closer to the former, the character does a few things in the film that are cold-blooded for anyone you are supposed to be rooting for. At one point he even slices a woman’s leg in order to evade capture.
Despite a few stereotypical aspects to the film, it does move along at an entertaining pace, never wandering into mindless action or utter boredom. Most of the action is pretty average as there are few tough fight scenes. Matt Damon and Daniel Craig may have recently influenced the genre with their signature fight choreography but Brosnan is still roughly the same age as fellow Irishman Liam Neeson.
One actress who has been a bit of a wild card for the last few years is Ukrainian Olga Kurylenko. She has been in two video game adaptations (“Max Payne” and “Hitman”), Terrence Malick’s “To the Wonder,” a James Bond film (“Quantum of Solace”), and last year’s “Oblivion.” Although it’s rarely, if ever, her fault, she often appears in films that are massive letdowns. On top of that, she almost always plays a woman who has been a victim of rape and/or addicted to drugs. Talk about unfortunate typecasting. She gives another decent performance here as a witness that Brosnan must protect from the CIA and a Russian assassin.
Aside from these two, most of the characters are bland or a little too hammy. Devereaux’s former trainee, Mason (Bracey), is a severely underwritten character. We never get much of a backstory on him, his character motivations change on a whim, and his dialogue is merely passable. There’s also a just-here-for-the-paycheck performance by Will Patton and Bill Smitrovich chews up the scenery as Brosnan’s former boss.
“The November Man” isn’t a film that you would include in any “Best of” lists but it’s an entertaining spy adventure for the post-summer theatergoers. A little more development of the characters, more memorable action sequences and some better writing would have made the film a vast improvement.