I wanted to see THE NOVEMBER MAN (2014) when it opened in theaters last year, but for some reason or other, I missed it. Now that it’s available on Netlflix Streaming, I finally caught up with it.
THE NOVEMBER MAN is an action thriller starring Pierce Brosnan as a former CIA operative who’s lured back into one last job and finds himself, among other things, squaring off against his former protégé.
Peter Deveraux (Pierce Brosnan) is trying to enjoy his “retirement” from the CIA. He owns a coffee shop in Switzerland, and life is good. However, his old boss John Hanley (Bill Smitrovich) tracks him down and asks him to do one more job. Hanley wants Deveraux to bring in a woman Natalia (Mediha Musliovic) from Russia whose life is in danger because she has information which will ruin the political career of the man who’s about to become president of Russia, Arkady Federov (Lazar Ristovski). The Russians want her dead and have put one of their most dangerous assassins, a woman named Alexa (Amila Terzimehic), on her trail. Deveraux can hardly say no to this assignment, as Natalia is the mother of his twelve year-old daughter.
So, Deveraux travels to Russia to extract Natalia, and all goes well, at first, but then a squadron of agents descend upon them and kill Natalia. Deveraux retaliates and recognizes one of the attackers as David Mason (Luke Bracey), his protégé, and he realizes that this was a CIA hit, which contradicts the information given him by his old boss Hanley, that they wanted Natalia alive.
David’s current boss Perry Weinstein (Will Patton) wants to know why Deveraux was there, and fearing that his former agent will seek vengeance for Natalia’s death, he orders David to find Deveraux and kill him.
Deveraux meanwhile tracks down a young woman named Alice (Olga Kurylenko) who has information on a missing woman who holds the key to Federov’s downfall. It’s this missing woman who Natalia knew about and is why the Russians wanted her dead. Now they want Alice dead as well. Deveraux vows to protect her, and together they set out to find the mystery woman, all the while remaining one step ahead of both the Russians and the CIA. Deveraux also has a personal score to settle, as he wants to know why the CIA wanted Natalia killed, and he wants to get back at those responsible for her death.
While this may sound confusing, it really isn’t. In spite of its twists and turns and political intrigue, the plot of THE NOVEMBER MAN is relatively easy to follow.
And since I understood this one from start to finish, I found myself really enjoying THE NOVEMBER MAN, as there was enough going on in the story to hold my interest, there were decent action scenes, and the cast more than held their own.
Pierce Brosnan leads the way as Peter Deveraux, the tough-as-nails CIA operative who earned the nickname “the November Man” because when he was through with a job, no one was left standing. I dunno. I can think of months with worse weather than November. Anyway, Brosnan is excellent here. I’ve always liked Brosnan as an actor, and as much as I liked him as James Bond, I’ve liked him better in other movies. He almost always delivers the goods, and his performance here in THE NOVEMBER MAN is no exception. He displays more range and emotion in the first twenty minutes of this movie than he does in any Bond film. He’s also more bad-ass than Bond in this movie, and as such he’s completely convincing as a deadly CIA assassin.
Luke Bracey is less convincing as Deveraux’s protégé Mason. He’s a pretty face and a muscular body, but he lacks Brosnan’s weathered toughness, and not once in this movie did I believe that Mason would actually best Deveraux. I had to scratch my head when Mason’s boss Perry Weinstein (Will Patton) sends Mason in to kill Deveraux. If Deveraux is as dangerous as they say he is, why send in a “baby” like Mason. Isn’t there someone more seasoned? Plus there’s the obvious emotional connection. Mason can say all he wants about how he’ll get the job done, but the fact remains the two men were best friends. It’s not the most convincing plot point.
Olga Kurylenko fares better as Alice, the woman who Brosnan spends most of the film trying to protect. Kurylenko is terribly sexy, and as Alice she gets to do quite a lot in this movie, as she is much more than just a target that Brosnan has to guard. She’s quite the effective heroine. Kurylenko also made a big impression starring opposite Daniel Craig’s James Bond in QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008) – she must like the James Bond types— and she was also good in a smaller role in the Tom Cruise science fiction film OBLIVION (2013). She’s excellent here in THE NOVEMBER MAN.
Bill Smitrovich is also exceptional as Hanley, Deveraux’s former boss. Smitrovich is a familiar face, and he’s been in lots of movies and TV shows, including IRON MAN (2008) and TED (2012). I’ve liked Smitrovich in a lot of these roles, but his performance in this movie as Hanley might be my favorite. He’s adept here at playing a two sided shadowy character, and he’s quite the bastard when he needs to be.
Amila Terzimehic looks impressive as Russian assassin Alexa, but she’s not in this movie a whole lot and as a result never becomes the villainous force she could have been. Likewise, Will Patton, who I always enjoy, isn’t on screen very much either as the current CIA chief Perry Weinstein. So, Patton’s impact is also limited.
THE NOVEMBER MAN was directed by Roger Donaldson, a veteran director who’s been making movies for decades. He directed Pierce Brosnan previously in DANTE’S PEAK (1997) the very average adventure film about an erupting volcano. THE NOVEMBER MAN is better than average. It’s a nicely paced slick thriller with convincing action scenes, a couple of exciting chase scenes, and some effective fight sequences that don’t disappoint.
The screenplay by Michael Finch and Karl Gajdusek based on the book There Are No Spies by Bill Granger has enough twists and turns to keep even the most seasoned spy movie fan satisfied, and it also boasts decent dialogue, especially for star Pierce Brosnan, who gets to chew up the scenery in some scenes. Finch wrote the screenplay for PREDATORS (2010), the PREDATOR reboot/sequel that I liked a lot, while Gajdusek co-wrote OBLIVION (2013), the Tom Cruise science fiction film which also starred Olga Kurylenko. I expected the screenplay for this one to be decent, and it was.
Sure, things become a bit far-fetched towards the end, and the plot does get somewhat convoluted, but it never reached the point where I flat out didn’t believe it, mostly because Brosnan remains convincing throughout. He’s the glue which holds this movie together.
THE NOVEMBER MAN is a well-made actioner, solid throughout, and it’s led by an impressive Pierce Brosnan who turns in a gritty rugged performance. The former James Bond can still kick some serious butt.