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What starts off as a generic Western Spies vs. the Russians movie, slightly evolves to include multiple betrayals and a few moderate twists.
Review (with Spoilers)
When Pierce Brosnan was James Bond, I was far more worried about the latest episode of Digimon or Yu-Gi-Oh to take note of his role as the legendary character. So, years later, let’s consider this me catching up on witnessing one of the few great action legends who has yet to be in The Expendables. But with The November Man featuring your usual Russian villains, an old spy coming out of retirement, and a rather predictable plot until maybe somewhere ¾ into the film, is it worth seeing?
Characters & Story
After nearly 30 years of service within the CIA, Peter (Pierce Brosnan) decided to retire from the agency and dedicate his life to other pursuits outside of killing and espionage. Unfortunately though, after 5 years of being retired, his old handler Hanley (Bill Smitrovich) reactivates him for an old love interest, Natalia (Mediha Musliovic), who is also an agent, is in an increasingly dangerous position. For with her spying on an up and coming former Russian general, and popular presidential candidate, Arkady Fedorov (Lazar Ristovski), and getting incriminating information on him, she needs to be extracted.
However, on the way to extraction Mason (Luke Bracey), Peter’s former protégé, gets in the way. Thus leading to those two men having a constant back and forth due to Natalia, Fedorov, and ultimately Hanley.
Outside of A Long Way Down, I am largely unfamiliar with Pierce Brosnan as an actor. I know of him from his work as James Bond, and remember him vaguely in Mamma Mia, but pretty much I saw him as a just one of the many Bond actors who hasn’t done a lot of interesting movies since. Though with The November Man, I feel like I’m slowly becoming a fan. For with him having the British charm most of their imports have, and this slight edge and ferociousness when it came to some of his scenes with Bracey, I found myself a bit of ashamed for not knowing who this man is.
As for the movie itself, what I liked about the film is, at first, it was hard to pin down who exactly was the hero or the villain. For you want to pin Mason as the villain for he does something to Peter, yet at the same time the way Peter goes out of his way to use this girl Sarah (Eliza Taylor) to teach Mason a lesson, it almost makes him out to be a villain. And between the back and forth of who maybe the villain, and then the injection of a Russian assassin, as well as the secrets of Fedorov which lead to many secrets revealed, you get an interesting story.
Though, I should note, for most of the film it really does seem like every twist and turn they come up with you’ll easily guess will happen long before it is seen on screen. This predictability takes away from the film a bit, especially since Brosnan’s version of being a secret agent is rather shallow. For while he notes some sort of guilt or burden through remembering the people he killed, this isn’t explored. Then, when it comes to the rest of the agents, Mason comes off as your generic soldier who does as he is told; Hanley is your veteran who may think ahead, but with his sexist mindset he seems a bit stuck in the past; and when it comes to our villains, they don’t really stray too far at all from what you expect when you hear “Russian Villains.” They aren’t much for English, seem a bit nuts, have very cold personalities, and meet their end in such a way which makes any sort of credibility they might have had dissipate  in a snap.
Overall: TV Viewing
This is not a James Bond film, nor is this the type of film which may lead you to want to read the book the film is based on. The November Man is a film which shows Pierce Brosnan is still very capable of being an action star and can hold his own against younger talent. And this isn’t to say this film seems made to stroke Brosnan’s ego, but at the same time I don’t think it really challenged him, the cast, or the expectations someone would have if they only saw the trailer. For, like many an action film, the main focus is the fighting, then the story. Of which, the story for ¾ of the film feels like a rehash of any generic western nation vs. the Russians film you have ever seen. Hence the TV Viewing label. For while Brosnan is entertaining, as are the majority of most of the actors, it just doesn’t have the type of oomph which makes this worth seeing. If anything, it is something you watch on DVD with a few friends when there is nothing to do.
Things To Note
- One of the villains, a assassin who was as flexible as a Ballerina, named Alexa (Amila Terzimehic) you are unsure what happens to her. We don’t see her die, or even get a hint where she may have went. All you can assume is that when a trigger is pulled at the end of the movie, perhaps she was the shooter.