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'The November Man' review: Spy versus dry

The November Man


"The November Man" began its theatrical run across the country starting yesterday.

Pierce Brosnan as Peter Devereaux.
Pierce Brosnan as Peter Devereaux.Photo courtesy of Relativity Media, used with permission.
The official theatrical poster for "The November Man."
The official theatrical poster for "The November Man."Photo courtesy of Relativity Media, used with permission.

In Montenegro in 2008, a grizzled CIA agent named Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) has taken a rookie named David Mason (Luke Bracey) under his wing as a potential agent. The mission goes south and Devereaux ends up quitting the agency because of it.

Five years later, Devereaux is living a relaxing life in Switzerland when he's visited by his former boss Hanley (Bill Smitrovich) as a mission involving a woman named Natalia (Mediha Musliovic) forces Devereaux back into the CIA picture. But Natalia is taken out by her own people and Mason is the one behind the trigger. Devereaux becomes a one-man wrecking ball as he uses every skill he has to destroy everything in his path. The undying question of whether or not the student has surpassed the teacher will finally be answered.

Spy thrillers are supposed to be exciting and exhilarating. There should be some sort of "thrilling" aspect to a thriller. "The November Man" fails to ever really entice its audience as its aimless direction sends the film barreling into several different countries without much reason and introduces characters it never properly utilizes.

The film is a one man show right from the start. Devereaux seems to throw in the towel because a hot headed new recruit won't listen to orders. The rivalry that develops between the two of them seems to be fueled by revenge until Devereaux flat out says he doesn't hate Mason and that he's one of the best men he's ever known. Their feud intensifies when Mason sleeps with his neighbor who can't keep track of her cat one evening. Devereaux uses her as bait to even the odds, but it doesn't seem like a fair trade; Mason killing the woman Devereaux loved dearly compared to a one night stand doesn't feel like an even exchange.

Everything drags along at a sluggish pace despite jumping from location to location and characters seemingly yelling for no reason at all when the situation doesn’t call for it. An assassin named Alexa (Amila Terzimehic) is made out to be this competent and dangerous assassin. She takes out all of Devereaux's old crew and is even shown as being extremely flexible and has a particular liking for firearms. Her skills are never shown on screen though. She mostly just flashes around her big nose, stabs an investigative journalist until it becomes overkill, and is bested by a soft female character who can never find the courage to kill her adversaries when it absolutely calls for it.

The story revolves around finding a woman who's been missing since she was young. The only source of her whereabouts lies with Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko). Unfortunately for "The November Man," all of its little twists and turns are foreseeable right from the start. The wild goose chase involving Devereaux and Mason has a reveal and a resolution that is neither satisfying or surprising. Alice's little side story has a rather lukewarm payoff, as well.

Not even the action of "The November Man" can save it. The car chases are littered with shaky camera techniques with unimaginative perspectives while the fight scenes involving Pierce Brosnan are filled with quick cuts, a lack of lighting, and lens flares to likely cover up the fact that Brosnan is too old to do much of anything fast paced anymore. All bullet wounds in the film are computer generated with cheap effects to make the film feel even lazier.

"The November Man" is a completely stale experience overall. It tries so hard to be funny, amusing, and entertaining and the film fails to be any of those things. The film only seems to take solace in being a boring and predictable excuse of a spy thriller. “The November Man” is unable to make heads or tails of how to establish an interesting storyline. It is one of the most monumentally dull trips you could possibly have at the cinema this year.