"Know what we used to call you Peter? The November Man. Cause after you passed through, nothing lived."
Experiencing November Man felt like simply passing through and not feeling anything. I definitely didn’t get any sense of enjoyment from Roger Donaldons’s (Species, The Bank Job, The Recruit) latest film. The only thing it has going for it is getting to see Pierce Brosnan as a spy agent once again, although Peter Devereaux is a somewhat more serious character than James Bond was. It tries to portray him as a much darker character, but I didn’t feel that way about him either. For a film that is trying to separate itself from the classic spy action thrillers it ends up relying on the same genre cliches and familiar plot twists. From the very opening scene of November Man I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy this. I didn’t like how these characters were introduced or how the action scenes took place. It was a completely dull experience for me.
November Man was adapted from one of Bill Granger’s spy novels centering on the anti-hero, Peter Devereaux. It is based on his 7th novel, “There Are No Spies,” which unfortunately I have never had the privilege of reading so I can’t say how faithful this adaptation is. What I can base my review on however, is on how poorly written the characters are for this film. They try to portray Devereaux as a darker character, but at the same time they want to make us like him and understand him. I would say he is your typical spy who has been betrayed and is trying to discover the truth along the way. There is one scene where he cuts an innocent girl’s femoral artery which felt out of place considering the film never tries to be a character study and focuses mostly on the action scenes. If the rest of the film focused on this gray side of his, I would have no problem in accepting it, but it mostly portrays him as a good spy who is trying to protect innocent lives. That scene sort of contradicts everything he has been portrayed as, especially in the opening scene. For a dark film they never go all the way to portray Brosnan as an anti-hero and they spend most of the time jumping from one familiar action scene to another. It simply doesn’t stand out as neither an original serious spy thriller nor an entertaining light hearted one. Donaldson never figured out how to balance this film correctly and adapt it to the source material.
November Man is an average spy thriller that relies heavily on Pierce Brosnan’s charismatic performance. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t enough to save the familiar script or the poorly executed action scenes. The secondary characters were uninteresting and they failed to engage me, while the film relies on one too many familiar twists. Luke Bracey plays the young CIA agent who is being trained by Peter, but after a series of unfortunate events unfold that puts them face to face against each other. Bracey’s character was poorly written and I didn’t enjoy his performance either. The film centers on these two characters as they are forced to face each other, but Bracey’s character is so uninteresting I did’t really care for it. Olga Kurylenko is a beautiful actress, but her performance here kind of reminded me of some of her other bad films such as Max Payne or Hitman. The sub-plot involving the Russian female assassin was laughable and pointless as the entire film was.