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'The November Man' is a Throw Back to the James Bond of the 90s

Pierce Brosnan driving a classic Bond car.
Pierce Brosnan driving a classic Bond car.
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The November Man

Rating:
Star2
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Star

So I had a little surprise waiting for me after work in the form of yet another movie to review. This time we drop out of the drama and romantic movies I've been seeing lately for something with a little more conspiracy behind it. Yes, I'm talking about the latest spy movie, starring former Bond agent himself Pierce Brosnan, who I thought had retired from the action genre. Instead Mr. Brosnan has hung up his singing and dancing boots, to dive back into the world of mistrust and gunplay in hopes of closing the summer with a bang. However, is his latest project a meal to fill the spy craving audience, or is it just another snack for one that looms further down the road? Let's get started on my latest review for The November Man.

What makes a good spy film? For most it usually involves mixing high-speed car chases, with fictitious weapons blazing at various points, and an occasional explosion. If we're lucky, those elements are wrapped around a decent plot, but that is not often the case. In the November man however, the balance is shifted more towards the plot element and gives you less bang for your buck. The plot is decent, a good conspiracy story that involves trying to determine the culprit and the crime at hand. Extreme, over the top villains are traded in for low key bad guys who have more smarts than fierce power. The writing cast, including the original author, developed some realistic villains, and helped make a somewhat vile villain that one could actually loathe, with his lack of decency. What I liked also was the rivalry built into the plot between Brosnan and his mentee Luke Bracey. The game the two play with one another acts as the medium to which the action comes out, more on that later. Such a relationship also helps with some character development and provides a little bit of heat to attempt to distract you from the rest of the plot. A few twists were even thrown in to help keep one on their toes, but one might be able to see them a mile away if you pay attention. Yet despite the endearing plot, it still lacks originality and is nothing we haven't seen a million times in a Bond movie. There are also a few loose ends that get tied up very rapidly, some humorous and others… a bit pointless and rather lacking. Nevertheless, it's not a bad adventure to take a spin on.

Now to the action part! As I said before the flash stunts and over the top gadgets are missing in this film. The action is more controlled, with the top agents actually having the aim to which their legendary status sets them up for. While decently choreographed, despite some of the ridiculous angles, the firefights are very straight and narrow most over in a manner of seconds. Brosnan still has some spark left in him, executing his moves quite flawlessly as he bangs out the poor extras. A few martial arts moves, a little fancy car maneuvering, and some torture are all present in the movie, in a manner similar to Taken, though lacking the suspense. Bracey has the potential to follow up with more spy movies as well, as both his looks and stunts fit the part quite well. The biggest strength of the action is that is keeps the film moving and is fitted into the story well enough to give a natural and smooth flow. Yet, the simplistic fighting style is a little boring at times, and the game of cat and mouse is rather silly at points and a little repetitive. I was hoping for a much more excited conclusion, especially with some of the bigger assassins in this game of deceit. However, I got to the ending and could only just shrug as I left the theater.

The final saving grace is the acting of this film, which helps create a cast of characters that are believable. Brosnan brings his suave voice and debonair charm to his character to reincarnate Bond again. Yet, this time his killer's edge comes out, slowly evolving as he is pushed to the edge numerous times. The spy isn't invincible, we see him fail a few times and have to rebuild his approach and teach other's a lesson. Bracey on the other hand plays the role of the eager mentee, whose impatience shaped him into the hot headed and arrogant young agent. He pulled it off well, but still has some polishing to do because some of the vulnerable side is a little overdramatic. Olga Kurylenko perhaps was my favorite of the main characters though. Kurvlenko had the most balanced array of emotions, playing the spectrum well going from an emotionless, bland attitude and evolving into someone much stronger, though still vulnerable as well. Sometimes it was a little overacted, but I thought her character had the most complexity and realism behind it. Of course the chemistry of everyone mixes well, as they play off of one another and build their emotions around the other characters. It's not the best chemistry I've seen, but it's pretty decent with the complexity of the tale.

Overall the November Man is a decent filler flick to help get your action craving fulfilled. However, it is only mildly entertaining and not necessarily worth the price of the movie. Again the story is decent and filled with a few surprises, but there just isn't enough drive that your favorite bond movie can't fill, especially one where Pierce Brosnan plays 007. My scores for this movie are:

Guest Reviewer

RG Karim