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Review: The November Man

The November Man
Aug. 27, 2014by:
4 10

PLOT: A retired CIA agent (Pierce Brosnan) is lured back into the service by an ex-colleague. When heís set up on a mission, he finds himself pitted against his protťgť (Luke Bracey) while attempting to protect a woman (Olga Kurylenko) with knowledge that could topple the next man in line for the Russian presidency.

REVIEW: NOVEMBER MAN was a film I was almost desperate to like. If anyone ever listens to The James Bonding Podcast, youíll know that Brosnan Ė in hindsight Ė always takes a beating when discussing former Bonds. That said I have a soft spot for the man as he was the theatrical Bond of my teen years, even though Ė in re-reviewing all the films a couple of years ago Ė I had to acknowledge some of his outings were poor. Yet, even Brosnanís harshest critics agree that had he had the material, he could have made an excellent Bond film.

Thus, I hoped NOVEMBER MAN would kind of be his NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN. Brosnanís at his best when producing his own films, so here he finally had creative control over his own spy film, and would get to finally do the hard-edged spy flick heíd been saying he wanted to do for years. The result? Sadly, NOVEMBER MAN is not the return to superspy form I wanted for him. Based on an entry in a series of books by Bill Granger, NOVEMBER MAN isnít anything you havenít seen done time and time again, only much better. Having Brosnanís Peter Devereaux go rogue is so old hat, with them clearly aiming for a Bourne-style thriller, with the result being like QUANTUM OF SOLACE without the budget or the panache.

Director Roger Donaldson has done some really good films in the past, but NOVEMBER MAN is too much like his last movie, SEEKING JUSTICE, in that it feels low-rent, and more like something that would go straight-to-VOD or disc rather than hit theaters. The big problem is the plot, and part of the movie feel curiously dated. While the cold war setting of the novel is updated to reflect the fallout of the Second Chechen War, other things feel antiquated, such as the bursts of hard-core misogyny from the villain, which feels cribbed from any eighties action movie. Same goes for Brosnanís early profane banter, which seems to be an effort to distance him from Bond, but feels tacked on.

The old spy vs young spy angle barely works, simply due to the fact that the young spy, played by Luke Bracey (of the upcoming POINT BREAK remake) is so bland. Braceyís another Aussie hunk in the Jai Courtney mold, but heís just as dull, with it odd that despite his only big credit being the masked Cobra Commander in G.I JOE RETALIATION, he being allowed to essentially carry an action movie. He has no edge whatsoever, and anytime they cut away from Brosnan to give Bracey screen time, one canít help but zone out.

Luckily, Brosnan is in top form. Looking trim, and elegantly dressed in very James Bondian suits (although he never wears a tie or a tux Ė that would be too obvious), he hasnít missed a beat as an action hero. Itís mostly low-key fisticuffs and gun fights, but Brosnan looks cool, and gives the character an edge Bond wouldnít be allowed to have, although it goes way too far in a scene where he almost kills a young woman just to make a point (see what I mean about the misogyny?). Thatís a tough scene to come back from, even if you are as charming as Brosnan, and truth be told it stops the movie cold, as heís never shown before this to be any kind of sadist, but rather someone youíre supposed to root for. It's mind-boggling anyone involved thought this was an effective moment. Rather, it's a disgrace considering this is supposed to be a "fun action flick". Nevertheless, Brosnan performs well otherwise, and could probably still play James Bond should the Broccolis ever decide to give him a one-off in between Daniel Craig Bondís (which Iíd actually love to see).

Furthering the Bond similarities is former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko has the gal Brosnan has to protect. Since QUANTUM OF SOLACE, Kurylenkoís more than proved herself as a serious actress in movies like TO THE WONDER, and while her part is initially thankless, towards the end it gets a little more three-dimensional and her chemistry with Brosnan is strong (although his Devereaux is a lot more chaste than Bond ever was).

Itís really too bad NOVEMBER MAN is such a mess, as Brosnan is clearly still up for making a good spy yarn, and he certainly deserves one thatís a lot better than this. Itís disappointing that his return to action movies feels so disposable. At the very least, this should prove that Brosnan still makes an effective hero. Hopefully the long-gestating sequel to THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR will happen someday. In the meantime, I suggest watching THE MATADOR if you really want to see what Brosnan is capable of.

Source: JoBlo.com

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9:21AM on 08/27/2014

Like I said, it is very generic and bland.

I don't know how they thought this would warrant a sequel. I don't see this making more than $15 Million in its first few weeks.
I don't know how they thought this would warrant a sequel. I don't see this making more than $15 Million in its first few weeks.
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7:38PM on 08/21/2014
That's too bad, but the trailer didn't make it look all that fantastic anyway. Came across as exactly what it is: a late august, second rate action thriller. That's too bad for Brosnan. I've always liked him. But after Bond, what seems to be his only major role on a superstar level, he just kind of disappeared. Was hoping this would be a bit of a come back for him. Who knows, maybe it will.
That's too bad, but the trailer didn't make it look all that fantastic anyway. Came across as exactly what it is: a late august, second rate action thriller. That's too bad for Brosnan. I've always liked him. But after Bond, what seems to be his only major role on a superstar level, he just kind of disappeared. Was hoping this would be a bit of a come back for him. Who knows, maybe it will.
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12:40PM on 08/18/2014
As much as I love Craig in the new films, Brosnan still looks more like Bond than him. I think it would be awesome if they brought Brosnan in as the villain in the new Craig Bond film. Imagine him as a grizzled, pissed off former MI6 agent (possibly even reveal that he was the previous 007).
As much as I love Craig in the new films, Brosnan still looks more like Bond than him. I think it would be awesome if they brought Brosnan in as the villain in the new Craig Bond film. Imagine him as a grizzled, pissed off former MI6 agent (possibly even reveal that he was the previous 007).
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+1
11:18AM on 08/18/2014
I was really hoping to see the new Kevin McClory 'Thunderball' remake with Brosnan that was rumored 5 years ago, but the film rights to Thunderball reverted back to Eon Productions fairly recently. It would have been awesome to see Brosnan play Bond one last time as an older man. Both Connery and Moore got to play Bond into their 50s, it's a shame that Brosnan won't get to do that. 'November Man' was the closest thing we were gonna get to another 'Never Say Never Again', and it sounds like it
I was really hoping to see the new Kevin McClory 'Thunderball' remake with Brosnan that was rumored 5 years ago, but the film rights to Thunderball reverted back to Eon Productions fairly recently. It would have been awesome to see Brosnan play Bond one last time as an older man. Both Connery and Moore got to play Bond into their 50s, it's a shame that Brosnan won't get to do that. 'November Man' was the closest thing we were gonna get to another 'Never Say Never Again', and it sounds like it didn't deliver.
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9:11AM on 08/18/2014

This shit looked like the most generic movie in a long time.

Protege vs Teacher. They team up at the end, right? I haven't seen the movie but I bet it follows every trite plotpoint in every direct to video trash to be put out in the past 20 years. How this is a theatrical release, blows my mind. This looked horrible, and is horrible. So it doesn't surprise me to get low ratings.
Protege vs Teacher. They team up at the end, right? I haven't seen the movie but I bet it follows every trite plotpoint in every direct to video trash to be put out in the past 20 years. How this is a theatrical release, blows my mind. This looked horrible, and is horrible. So it doesn't surprise me to get low ratings.
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8:08AM on 08/18/2014
Looked like a decent action/thriller, but they should have cast someone better and more charismatic to go head to head with Brosnan.

And yes, Matador is a terrific film.
Looked like a decent action/thriller, but they should have cast someone better and more charismatic to go head to head with Brosnan.

And yes, Matador is a terrific film.
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4:04AM on 08/18/2014

Sigh

Women should be treated as equals. It's okay to hit them.
Women should be treated as equals. It's okay to hit them.
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3:08AM on 08/27/2014
Hopefully you're joking.
Hopefully you're joking.
4:02AM on 08/18/2014
And I suggest watching "Seraphim Falls". Very underrated Western.
And I suggest watching "Seraphim Falls". Very underrated Western.
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4:00AM on 08/18/2014
The trailers looked decent, but I had a bad feeling on this one for two reasons, I don't know who Luke Bracey is, so why should I care, and it's late-August, which usually is a bad omen when it comes to genre fare.
The trailers looked decent, but I had a bad feeling on this one for two reasons, I don't know who Luke Bracey is, so why should I care, and it's late-August, which usually is a bad omen when it comes to genre fare.
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3:16AM on 08/18/2014

It's Pierce Brosnan People!!

Let's not forget how really good this guy is. Is this movie great? No, but it's still pretty Damn good. As much as I hoped this would be his next 'the Matador,' he still kills it. Definitely worth a watch.
Let's not forget how really good this guy is. Is this movie great? No, but it's still pretty Damn good. As much as I hoped this would be his next 'the Matador,' he still kills it. Definitely worth a watch.
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3:04AM on 08/18/2014
I got the same vibe as The Expatriate (starring Aaron Eckhart) from this movie - as in lack of advertising and marketing that hurt this movie. Still, I'd probably check this out for the sake of Pierce Brosnan.
I got the same vibe as The Expatriate (starring Aaron Eckhart) from this movie - as in lack of advertising and marketing that hurt this movie. Still, I'd probably check this out for the sake of Pierce Brosnan.
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1:23AM on 08/18/2014
I liked it a fair bit more than Bumbray did, as much as a 7 out of 10. Brosnan is more convincing as a spy here and actually is believably tough and badass in the role. It's too bad Luke Bracey is a typical charisma-free imported pretty boy. Honestly, this is one of the best performances I've seen from Olga Kurylenko and I thought the twists and reveals at the end of the film were interesting and plausible.
I liked it a fair bit more than Bumbray did, as much as a 7 out of 10. Brosnan is more convincing as a spy here and actually is believably tough and badass in the role. It's too bad Luke Bracey is a typical charisma-free imported pretty boy. Honestly, this is one of the best performances I've seen from Olga Kurylenko and I thought the twists and reveals at the end of the film were interesting and plausible.
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