The November Man Review
"November Comes Early This Year"
I find it interesting that Pierce Brosnan would play a character codenamed The November Man. When you consider the fact that three of the four Bond films he starred in were released in November, as was the video game Everything or Nothing
, which marked Brosnan's last appearance as Bond (depending on which console you bought it for), I would say this makes him undeniably, The November Man. As such, he is the perfect fit for this film.
Brosnan hits the ground running in this explosive and intriguing spy thriller based on the Bill Granger novel, There Are No Spies
from The November Man
series. One gets the feeling that Brosnan could still play 007 albeit at an older age, such as the one former Bond author Raymond Benson wrote about in a couple of James Bond short stories. You could see him passing the baton so to speak, to a younger, newly christened Double-O agent. However, I digress a bit. This is not a Bond film. There are no handy gadgets from the Q-Branch to get anyone out of trouble here. This is a grittier world than anything we have seen in a Bond film from the Brosnan era. The movie feels like a remixed, repackaged, slightly cleverer Bond flick that plays a couple shades darker than what we might see in a Bond film. Rather than following a character with chronic Peter Pan Syndrome, we now see a man who is enjoying being inactive and living a quiet life in the country.
Brosnan is lethal and well-trained ex-CIA operative Peter Devereaux. After a mission goes wrong, he retires from the agency only to be pulled back into the game after several years for one last ride. When his former protégé David Mason (Luke Bracey) unexpectedly turns up in the middle of a job, things get personal for Devereaux. What ensues are a series of twists and turns that ends up being just enough to keep audiences guessing as the story moves ahead.
It is good to see Pierce Brosnan back in action. At 61 years young, Brosnan is still spry, which is sure to please his fans as they watch him battle his way through the very complicated and murky world of espionage. He also has not lost any of the suaveness and charm, which made him a great candidate for Bond. There is something that seems just right about seeing him in a more grounded spy film. It seems like the natural progression in this second act of his career, going from something like Remington Steele
to James Bond to The November Man
. He is a little older, a bit more grizzled and there is more edge, more emotion to him. Brosnan is also able to get across nice moments of tenderness, which serve to make Devereaux a richer character in a film which is comprised of more or less cardboard cutouts of the players you expect to see in a spy thriller. Brosnan also seems a bit too refined for things like swearing for instance. Scenes with Brosnan swearing took me out of the moment, because they did not feel as genuine. He could still have been just as effective without swearing.
Luke Bracey was fine as Devereaux's former protégé turned opponent. He could have been replaced with another actor and the result would probably not be much different from what we get from him here. However, there were moments, particularly when the tension was high, where Bracey felt as if he were trying very hard to stay in character, which made it a challenge to care about him. There was not much to his character, which could be a screenplay issue, but he felt very superficial. Bracey does what he can with what was written for him and the result is passable. One hopes that there will be more to learn about him should there be a sequel. The other standout aside from Brosnan, is obviously the lovely Olga Kurylenko. The former Bond girl, who you may remember from the universally dismissed (except by true Bond fans) Quantum of Solace
, turns in a very nuanced and layered performance as Alice Fourneir, a case worker who helped young girls who were once refugees.
This film has been getting a lot of flack for its apparent lack of originality and abundance of plot holes. I must play the devil's advocate though, and say that I do not believe it is as bad as what the general consensus seems to be. However, you will have to judge for yourself, dear reader. Could it have been better? Sure. Could it have been worse? Definitely. Without an actor like Pierce Brosnan, who brought the right amount of gravitas and sensitivity with some necessary edge, it could have been a very different picture. This was a passion project for Brosnan, who spent the better part of seven years pulling strings to get it made. While passion projects do not always make the best films (depending on who you ask), they can still be appreciated for the attempt at making something meaningful.