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New Review: The November Man (2014)
Director: Roger Donaldson
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Olga Kurylenko, Luke Bracey, Bill Smitrovich, Will Patton, Mediha Musliovic, Lazar Ristovski, Eliza Taylor
The November Man is one of the most worthless movies I've seen in years. The story is loaded with inconsistencies, and plays out like a checklist of spy movie clichés. The actors all appear to be sleepwalking through the movie, reciting their lines without ever bringing any warmth or personality to their characters. The action scenes are unbelievably lackluster, and to top it off, there are moments where the movie becomes shamelessly exploitative (an innocent child is gunned down in the movie's opening shoot-out). Just last week I wrote a negative review for The Expendables 3, calling it a "dreary bore." I might have been kinder toward it if I knew a movie like this was in my immediate future.
The story here is so lazily structured that it seems like a waste of time to even write about it. Based on the novel There Are No Spies by Bill Granger, the movie stars Pierce Brosnan as Peter Devereux, a five years retired spy who's called back into action when an old associate of his named Hanley (Bill Smitrovich) comes to him with a mission. He needs Devereux to protect a Russian informant who has damaging intel on the soon-to-be Russian President Arkady Federov (Lazar Ristovski). As it turns out, the informant is Peter's old flame Natalia (Mediha Musliovic), who just so happens to be mother to Peter's 12 year old daughter Lucy (Tara Jevrosimovic). We're told that Lucy stays with Peter, although we don't even see the child until the very end, when the movie requires that she be put in jeopardy for cheap thrills.
It's no surprise that Natalia winds up getting killed in action, but before she does, she gives Peter evidence that Federov is guilty of some pretty heinous crimes. Digging deeper into Federov's past, he eventually crosses paths with a pretty social worker named Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko), who worked with the sex slave Federov was involved with. Suddenly, Devereux and Alice find themselves on the run from CIA agents who (for some reason) want them dead, as well as a ruthless female assassin (Amila Terzimehic) who, I think, works for Federov.
Leading the CIA hunt against Devereux is Devereux's old pupil David Mason (Luke Bracey), a hot head who's recently started dating his pretty blond neighbor Sarah (Eliza Taylor). The scene where David and Sarah share a night together leads to the most bizarre and ugly scene in the film. Devereux breaks in and holds the innocent young woman at gunpoint. It seems as though he is still trying to teach David. "You're either a human being, or a killer. You can't be both." So says the guy who's raising a 12 year old and protecting a social worker, but never mind. Suddenly, Devereux grabs the frightened young woman and slices her femoral artery with a knife. She starts bleeding uncontrollably, is rushed to the hospital, and is never seen or heard from again after that.
Where did this scene come from? Why was it added? It plays out like it came from another movie, and one where Pierce Brosnan is the villain. He's quite contemptible in the scene, and the fact that he does sever this innocent woman's artery completely destroys any feelings of sympathy we might have felt for him by that point. That's not to say the movie was doing a very good job by then. Brosnan appears to be going through the motions here, and the scenes between him and Kurylinko are completely lifeless. There's no chemistry and no relationship between the two of them, but that doesn't stop the movie from hinting at romantic feelings between them as it plods on.
The rest of the movie is an utter failure. The people inhabiting this movie are not characters, but pawns manipulated by the screenplay. They do exactly what is required of them, and exactly what we expect them to do. Editor John Gilbert does an appalling job, stitching the scenes together in such a wildly inept fashion that it's downright impossible to become involved with the proceedings. Director Roger Donaldson tells the story in a weary and workman like way, as though he had no interest in it at all. Then, there's Will Patton, who's wasted as Handler's sleazy boss Weinstein, and plays the role as though he had nothing but evil thoughts in his mind. It's quite a bad performance.
Believe it or not, there's more, but I'm not going to waste another second writing about The November Man. There are other better spy movies out there, some of them even starring Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan is such a magnetic actor that he can certainly survive this blight on his resume, and Donaldson has made good movies in the past, and will no doubt do so again. It's just a shame that so much talent was wasted on a movie like this. In the end, the only thing I'm left wondering is which will ultimately be the worst movie of 2014: This, or Sabotage?
Rated R for brutal violence including a sexual assault, profanity, sexual content, nudity, drug use
Final Grade: no stars (out of ****)
What did you think of this movie? :)
Other Thoughts on The November Man (2014)
- 'November Man' is a waste of a perfectly good Brosnan
He plays a Bond-like lethal weapon, but the movie is not worthy of his talents.
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