The November Man doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre and is more in line with the Bourne franchise with both grit and geopolitics centric to their respective stories. But what makes this stand out is finally seeing Pierce Brosnan returning to form and kicking ass instead of, you know, singing…
The November Man
Genre(s): Action, Suspense/Thriller
Fox | R – 108 min. – $39.99 | November 25, 2014
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
If you thought you were done with Pierce Brosnan as a secret agent, you thought wrong, though in The November Man, his character is James Bond if Bond was a terrifying bastard willing to bend the rules of morals when revenge is on the mind.
In this film, we follow Peter Devereaux (PIERCE BROSNAN), a retired CIA agent enjoying the good life, owner of a Swiss seaside café and kicking back and relaxing when his old handler, Hanley (BILL SMITROVICH), comes to him with another mission: he is to travel to Russia and escort deep cover CIA operative Natalia Ulanova (MEDIHA MUSLIOVIC), who is posing as an aid to potential Russian president Arkady Federov, out of Russia as she holds an important name not to mention incriminating photos of Federov.
When Devereaux arrives, all hell has broken lose as Federov discovers she had gotten into his safe and now Russian forces are after them, not to mention there’s also a CIA operation, headed by CIA station chief Perry Weinstein (WILL PATTON) in town tasked to retrieve Natalia who had no idea Devereaux had been tasked by Hanley. With Devereaux having Natalia in the car, the CIA now believes she’s in the hands of the Russians and is ordered to be taken out, i.e. killed, which Devereax’s former protégé, David Mason (LUKE BRACEY). Before so, she does reveal the name, Mira Filipova, which he relays to Hanley.
As Devereaux sees a drone in the sky, he knows exactly what agency is behind it and sets off on his revenge rampage leading to killing of a few CIA agents but then discovers Mason as the duo faceoff before turning away from one another, in slo-mo obviously, with Mason triggers the agency van to explode making of one cool shot for the trailer.
In the meantime, we meet our female lead, a refugee case worker named Alice Fournier (OLGA KURYLENKO), as she is approached by a New York Times reporter investigating Federov for possible war crimes during the second Chechen War. At the same time, a Russian assassin arrives in town to complicate matters and with help, finds a connection between Mila and Alice, as Alice was her case worker, and Peter, for his part, is on the same path leading to Alice meeting the reporter in a restaurant where the assassin has posed as a waitress intending to kill Alice. Peter manages to rescue Alice in the nick of time and the chase, once again, is on, through the streets of Belgrade.
Rather than spoiling the rest of the film, as there are a couple half-decent, if not predictable, twists, I’ll stop there.
So, The November Man was the perfect vehicle to showcase Pierce Brosnan’s return to form as a secret agent, one that was cut short thanks to the hokey direction the Bond franchise took especially in Die Another Day. Here, Brosnan gets to cut loose making the most out of an R-rating with plenty of gritty violence and a sleazy underground not to mention a plotline that involves war crimes and rape.
Aside from Brosnan, who does kick all sorts of ass and does some good detective work, the remaining cast is admirable. Olga Kurylenko, a former Bond girl to Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace, delivers a nice performance is of course lovely eye candy amidst the violence and mayhem. Relative newcomer Luke Bracey, who set to start as Johnny Utah in the Point Break remake, serves well opposite Brosnan and he makes the most out of the prototypical action hero including the side sliding on-target gunfire (while also smashing through a door).
The November Man, based on the book “There Are No Spies” (the seventh in a series of novels set during the Cold War) by Bill Granger, was helmed by Roger Donaldson reteaming with Brosnan since 1997’s Dante’s Peak, and looking over his career, he’s been a more than adequate in the genre from Thirteen Days to The Recruit to The Bank Job and even made the DTV Nicolas Cage movie Seeking Justice pretty tolerable… He knows how to direct action and makes the most out of a unique locale and provides for effective action-filled chase scenes.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover and inside is a redemption code for the Digital Copy.
Audio Commentary – Director Roger Donaldson, Producer Beau St. Clair and Actor/Executive Producer Pierce Brosnan offer up a succinct and informative track providing background on the project, filming in Belgrade and other little tidbits; it’s not a great track but fans of Brosnan might enjoy it.
The Making of The November Man (10:50; HD) is your typical behind-the-scenes featurette with on-set interviews with cast and crew members including Pierce Brosnan and Olga Kurylenko.
Brosnan is Back (6:40; HD) examines Brosnan’s return as a secret agent and the interactions with his fellow and actors and crew members.
Bringing Belgrade to the Big Screen (5:55; HD) is another production featurette of filming in a country not seen that much in cinema and bringing it to life for this story.
Previews – Exodus: Gods and Kings, Brick Mansions, Before I Go to Sleep
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Fox releases The November Man onto Blu-ray presented in its original theatrical 2.40 and with a 1080p high-definition transfer (MPEG-4 AVC codec). The picture offers nice and bright colors throughout yet still with nighttime scenes; there are no signs of artifacting, pixilation or banding while detail levels are sharp and clean. All around it’s not a particularly striking transfer but one that is more than satisfying.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track offers a pleasing and depth-filled lossless audio providing for crisp and clear dialogue levels and those numerous action/chase scenes come to life set against Marco Beltrami’s robust score. All in all, it’s a nice track that might not be reference quality but certainly makes use of every element displayed.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, The November Man doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre and is more in line with the Bourne franchise with both grit and geopolitics centric to their respective stories. But what makes this stand out is finally seeing Pierce Brosnan returning to form and kicking ass instead of, you know, singing… The Blu-ray released by Fox at least has a fair amount of features, headlined by commentary with Brosnan and company, and good/great video/audio transfers.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.