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The November Man – Movie Review

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The November Man – Movie Review

Rating: D+ (Bad)

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It’s always nice when an actor returns to the type of role that launched him into the limelight. While it’s good to spread your wings and try something different, it doesn’t hurt to go back to your bread-and-butter. The November Man is definitely Pierce Brosnan returning to a Bond-like action picture, albeit one with a lot more bloody violence than one might expect. Unfortunately, he’s selected a script that is on par with Die Another Day rather than GoldenEye. This is an idiotic movie with an unnecessarily convoluted screenplay and the longer it plays, the more juvenile it becomes. The whole project feels like a first draft effort.

To give the film some credit, the action sequences are shot with careful placement and cinematographer Romain Lacourbas thankfully does not shake the camera to an annoying degree. One car chase early on is well-handled with the stunt drivers twisting and turning every which way. The shoot-outs are less interesting, mainly because Brosnan’s Peter Devereaux never seems to miss and is very rarely injured. Thus making these moments not particularly tense nor exciting. Blood spurts out of peoples’ bodies at a ridiculous degree. When this happens for the first time, it’s a genuine shock. After the second occurrence and onwards, it’s just boring. Eventually, it all starts to become a senseless barrage of violence with no weight behind it.

The screenplay is convoluted and only seems to get more idiotic as it goes along. The movie jumps around between Agent Devereaux, Olga Kurylenko’s targeted social worker, the CIA and the many villains, but none of these characters are worth investing in. They are all flatly written with extremely basic motivations and little to latch onto. The antagonists, in particular, are your generic villains with overly-complicated back stories. Even a female assassin, played by Bosnian gymnast Amila Terzimehic, doesn’t reach the full potential and ferocity a character like that should bring. As Devereaux, Pierce Brosnan gets more and more over-the-top the longer the movie plays. In one scene, when he threatens the life of an innocent woman just to prove a ridiculous point, all sympathy immediately goes out of the window. There’s little reason to root for him.

Kurylenko is basically there to look frightened and her back-story leads into a very uncomfortable scene of extraordinarily bad taste. Maybe in a more serious film, this element would have been effective, but it’s incredibly offensive in a movie as stupid as this one. Luke Bracey’s CIA agent is also a bore and remarkably manages the worst performance in a movie filled with below-par acting. The script makes a big fuss about his former working relationship with Devereaux, but there is little sense of the history between them. All character interaction exists solely because the script demands it and not through any personal connection. When Kurylenko and Brosnan sleep together, it comes right out of nowhere and feels shoe-horned into the film due to his prior experience as James Bond.

The November Man had the makings of a fun, violent spy thriller with the ability to show that Pierce Brosnan can play action roles even after he stopped sipping the martinis. Instead, the script takes so many idiotic steps towards its predictable conclusion that any entertainment value is lost. While Luc Besson had zero involvement with this film, it reeks of the mentality of his recent efforts like Brick Mansions and Lucy. It is so focused on its car chases and showing attractive people shooting guns, that it forgets about important things like telling a coherent story and creating compelling characters, with heroes worth rooting for and villains whose defeat you cheer.

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Review By: Stefan Ellison

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