Directed by Roger Donaldson
Written by Michael Finch, Karl Gajdusek from Bill Granger
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko
An ex-CIA operative is brought back in on a very personal mission and finds himself pitted against his former pupil in a deadly game involving high level CIA officials and the Russian president-elect.
Now just hold on a moment. Go back and read that synopsis again, would you? How many of you (over thirty-five or so) read that and wished, just for an insane moment, that “wouldn’t it be pretty cool actually if the Cold War was still happening?”
If it was still going on, then the last Bond really worth watching would have been the man you wanted to be out there, protecting our National interests. Yes, Brosnan’s 007 was a dinosaur, a mysoginist relic that Judi Dench had so much fun lambasting Daniel Craig with, with enough eloquence and disdain as to make an award-winning male porn star visibly wither.
Here however, for good or for bad, we are not forced to bend to the will of conformity and political correctness. Where Bond may have lost some of his lustre by being more human and less a man of mystery, such is not the problem here. So, does this make November Man nothing more than a lampoon of characters that made the film even possible in the first place, even if that genre has moved on and left this tired old fossil behind?
Well, in spy thriller circles, it doesn’t really demand your full attention and if we’re brutally honest (don’t forget, we have alot
of love for Mr Brosnan), this ain’t no Bourne. It’s Pierce mucking about in Eastern Europe, playing gun tennis with his old spy trainee and padawan learner Luke Bracey. You could accusingly suggest that he may be better of on a beach in bermuda shorts, torturing Abba songs, instead of somehow killing seemingly witless secret agents half his age.
As such, you have to leave an extra bag of incredulity at the door before you sit down to this. Outlandish and “now, just hang on a second!!” it certainly is already, but throw an aging spy who only surely exists on screen to feed Brosnan’s own ego and wistful memories with one last shot at action-hero super-stardom, and you really do have to try and get through it with goodwill alone, as there is little else you can claim any rights to. It may have worked for sole-trader Liam Neeson and his special set of skills, but here? Hmm, I’m not buying it, I’ll be honest. I really, really want to though, because Goldeneye was just so bloody brilliant and Brosnan’s Bond was just so devilishly cool.
Through occasional twist and convoluted turn, The November Man is pretty much by the numbers and rarely pokes its head above the parapet of originality, for fears that it might just get a bullet in the forehead for its trouble. It never dawdles and will entertain almost all the way through from beginning to end, even if it never goes so far as to actually impress in any department, be it acting, scripting or direction. Cheesy one-liners are seldom, but they are there, which doesn’t help as this project takes itself way too seriously to be this far away from running with the bigger boys of the action genre. The guns are just as chunky and the bullets just as deadly, but this lacks a good deal of style and flair that too many others of its type are well versed in already.
A project that will most likely find its way to DVD quicker than anticipated and on your smaller screen just as quickly. As a filler, this is worth one viewing if only to see just how cool Brosnan was when he was 007 and just how little it takes to make an unglamorous decent to the lower leagues.
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