Viewers and readers who can’t remember the Cold War will find it difficult to identify with that troubled yet exciting time. Without getting all misty-eyed with nostalgia, it must be admitted that the lingering USA-UK-USSR contretemps was the cauldron that produced some exceptionally exciting books and fantastically entertaining movies. Alas, by the time of glasnost and perestroika, the espionage novels and movies based upon them were deemed to be as stale as month-old piroshki. When the Soviet Union finally collapsed of its own weight, the international espionage writers had moved on, leaving those damn commies behind and focusing on new villains who speak Arabic or Farsi . . .
In The November Man, a former Cold War CIA operative named Peter Devereaux is reactivated for a mission that is more personal than it seems. Playing Devereaux, Pierce Brosnan is forced into a deadly chess game — with gunfire! — against the next President of Russia, a nasty CIA official and Devereaux’s former student Mason, played by Luke Bracey. See, even though the Cold War is a done deal, Russians with their Boris and Natasha accents still make the best villains, with CIA spooks running a close second and snotty former trainees a very proximate third.
The plot is as thin as any that Hollywood screenwriters could possibly imagine, but the same can be said of almost every movie this year. The director does the story no favors by incorporating editing that jumps confusingly from cut to cut without adequate transitions. On top of which, the only time that the dialog isn’t completely forgettable is when it’s idiotic.
My favorite piece of parlez was when Devereaux advises the utterly delectable Olga Kurylenko — who is worth the price of admission all on her own — that a bullet travels at “4000 feet per second, four times the speed of sound.” Considering that the most powerful rifle depicted in this movie was Bracey’s Blaser R93 in .338 Lapua, I have to applaud the screenwriters’ ability to be wrong twice in the same sentence.
As far as the acting is concerned, Brosnan is unexpectedly outstanding in a gritty role. This is not the pretty-boy Brosnan of “Remington Steele” or “Mrs. Doubtfire,” nor the tongue in cheek action hero of “Tomorrow Never Dies.” This Brosnan is a tough guy. Best of all, I am forever grateful that he didn’t try to sing “SOS” as he did in “Mama Mia.” If there were any dogs near the theater, I’m sure they would concur.
Brosnan’s now-craggy visage is perfect for playing the dissolute Devereaux, and Brosnan proves in this movie that he can chew up the scenery with the best of them. Unfortunately, he still handles guns, such as his SIG-Sauer P226, Ruger GP100 and CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow, like they were spitting cobras with full venom sacks. And – there’s no elegant way to say this – when he drops into his shooting stance it looks like he’s delivering a pantload.
Bracey is okay as Mason, the young gun, and for an Aussie he displays remarkable trigger discipline when he wields his Beretta 92FS Inox Compact. Mason is also a sharpshooter who uses his Heckler & Koch SR9-TC as well as the aforementioned Blaser to bang out a couple of wicked head shots. Unfortunately, Mason has no qualms against violating Rule Four, which gets him into hot water with Devereaux and is the precursor to their falling out. While Devereaux had the highest body count in this movie, Mason ran a close second. And speaking of body count, The November Man lags slightly behind a mid-80s Schwarzenegger movie, but only by a little.
Kurylenko, the well-remembered hottie from “Quantum of Solice,” is a beguiling and steamy actress. It would have been great to see more of her, and you can take that any way you want. She has zero chemistry with Brosnan, but that wasn’t the point. She has a lot of chemistry with the audience.
Amila Terzimehic plays a cold-blooded, steely-eyed, hawk-billed, knife-wielding, gun-toting Russian assassin and, as a former gymnastic champion, she proves to be quite limber too. Anyone who was impressed with Emily Blunt’s yoga scene in “Edge of Tomorrow” (I was) will be even more impressed with Ms. Terzimehic’s ability to attain positions that seem both anatomically impossible and excessively painful. Why she would perform such positions when they have nothing to do with the plot is a question best left to the screenwriters.
I was disappointed that top character actor Will Patton wasn’t given more to do. Patton is such a good actor that he can breathe life into a laundry list: “You want staaaarch? I’ll give you staaaaarch!” (Extra credit if you get the reference). In this film, however, Patton was definitely hampered by meaningless lines and a ridiculous Walmart toupee that looked like it was fashioned from a road-kill beaver.
The November Man has been in theaters for about a week now. If you haven’t seen it, you are a member of an exclusive club consisting of almost everybody else on the planet. The word of mouth hasn’t been very good because the movie incorporates all the usual, tired tropes: evil, conniving CIA men, ruthless Russians, old master versus young gunslinger, farfetched international conspiracies and so on. That’s unfortunate, since this has been a dismal summer for fans of movies that don’t include teenage mutants on the half shell, talking house plants or time-shifting aliens. But gauged against its human competition, The November Man is only half bad.
Model: The November Man
Length: 108 minutes
Action: Lots of gunfights, car crashes, punch-ups, snipings, head shots and a couple of knifings that will make you squirm.
Finish: There’s a sequel in the works – what does that tell you?
Price: Cheap enough on Half Price Wednesday
RATINGS (out of five bullets):
Style * * *
The script is dull and the dialog is unmemorable. The shooting scenes were graphic. The chase scenes will only have you on the edge of your seat if you really, really need to use the toilet. Some of the edits had me shaking my head, wondering what the hell was going on. Brosnan was a better Devereaux than he was at playing James Bond, especially considering that in this movie he didn’t get to apply his special and effective take on witty James Bond repartee — because this movie takes itself very, very seriously.
Reliability * *
The plot was clichéd and the characters mostly unappealing. If there’s anything that you didn’t see coming, you probably were outside getting popcorn. Or a refund.
Overall * * *
Compared to the great spy movies of the golden age, this movie was a pale imitation. With a decent script and a believable plot, this could have been something. As is, it was better than nothing.
Brosnan should stick to his forte’: massive bong hits.
I’ll rent on iTunes.
Saw it last night.
Save your money folks. Among many of the goofs, Brosnans gun changes from a P99 to a CZ75 shadow and back again twice in the same scene.
If you have the urge to watch this still, go stream Training Day instead. The gun handling is only half as bad, and you can still see cool shots of the Beretta 92.
Hmmm…almost sounds like Brosnan might have been stoned through the entire filming.
Plus Training Day has those great full frontal shots of Eva Mendez…
Thanks for taking one for the team, Ralph.
I’ll wait 6 months for it to be on TV.
As mediocre as The November Man was, it was still a major step up from The Purge: Anarchy. Watching Purge was truly taking one for the team.
as a gun and self defense enthusiast, I wouldnt be caught dead with that movie playing in front of my corpse. I tried watching the first one and i left not even half way into it.
ill never get those 7 bucks or 45 minutes of my life back.
Seven bucks? Movies are cheap in your area.
“as a gun and self defense enthusiast, I wouldnt be caught dead with that movie playing in front of my corpse.”…
Let’s hope you get the chance to test that theory. The world would be a better place.
Just saw this two nights ago. Wait for Netflix.
Caliber: Medium – lol
Thanks for the review, Ralphie.
Does TTAG at least pick up the tab? Definitely worthy of an expense report (including popcorn)
For god’s sake, man, do you think that I would subject myself to Hollywood debasement AND pay for the privilege? That would truly add injury to insult.
lol – that’s two laughs in one post my man. Anyway, sounds like a good gig then. Glad to have you on point
Meh, Cold war movies leave me… well cold.. all fluff and no action… Ill take a good *real war* movie anytime.
I loved the postman reference , Patton was great in it.
Great job Ralph.
Winner winner chicken dinner!
.338 LM exceeding 4,000 fps? That’s a hoot.
The 338 LM was designed to shove a 300gr match pill downrange at about 3,000 fps.
If someone wants to see a really fast bullet, they should look at what some varmint boys have done with the .22-250 AI. There’s a couple of loadings that exceed 5,000 fps.
Shooting varmints is SO 20th century. Sublimating them is the way of the future!
And what do you suppose the barrel life is at 5K FPS
Is this a James Bond wannabe? It’s only saving grace is Brosnan is older than me. At least speaking arabic keeps my son employed. BTW the cold war is back-with Putin talking about how many atomic weapons Russia has…
Is this a James Bond wannabe?
No, Devereaux is far from Bond and The November Man has none of the glamour of a Bond movie.
Brosnan has a bit of experience doing spy movie actioners. Besides, Brosnan’s production company owned the movie rights to the book and he executive-produced this flick.
Blaser Tac II and a Steyr SSG 69? Excellent taste in sniper rifles!
I saw the preview months ago– when he spouted that 4000 fps line, that was it for me. Sheesh.
That line is what motivated me to watch and review this film.
I was excited to see this – the book series by Bill Granger was excellent. Unfortunately, as stated above, it was mediocre.
Granger’s books were pretty good, and “There Are No Spies” — the 1986 book on which this film was very loosely based, is being re-released as “The November Man.” Which is kinda bizarre, since The November Man was Granger’s first Devereaux book, written in 1979, and had nothing to do with this movie.
Ralph, you truly are TTAG’s very own “Joe Bob Goes to the Drive In”.
“Ralph-Bob says check it out…”
I hate these movie previews you see on TV. An example is “Flight” Preview shows some real exciting scenes of an airliner out of control. The movie, 10 minutes, and then nothing more.
It was a good movie though, but I was hoping for a lot longer sequence of the airliner in trouble.
You guys want a great Bond ripoff? And by ‘great’ I mean so awful that it’s good? Here ya go:
I’m really loving the TTAG movie and book reviews! I have very little time to spend seeing movies, so I’m glad when I can be saved time going to see a movie that ends up being meh. The fact Summer Glau is in this movie makes it really hard not to go see it though. I haven’t noticed her in too much since Terminator Chronicles, which is a shame ’cause she’s such a damn good actor.
Its not centered around firearms, but if anyone is looking for a GOOD Pierce Brosnan performance, check out “The Matador”. Truly a gem…touching and damned funny.
“It would have been great to see more of her”
Then you need to see Hitman
My wife and I saw this movie last night. Not bad but a lot of plot holes, we thought, and the nominal twists and turns are predictable.
We also recently saw “A most wanted man.” Now that was a good suspenseful spy flick.
“The plot is as thin as any that Hollywood screenwriters could possibly imagine, but the same can be said of almost every movie this year” ….so translated this movie sucks, like all other movies, so it’s ok….. Reminds me of the mentality we are conditioned to accept every voting cycle, ie voting the lesser of 2 evils. We have been conditioned to accept and contribute to our own demise.