It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Pierce Brosnan in anything resembling his run as James Bond but he makes his welcome return to espionage action in The November Man.
Brosnan plays a veteran CIA agent, Peter Devereaux, who is brought back to extract an asset with valuable intelligence on Arkady Federov, who is close to becoming the new Russian president. As one might expect, things go south and Devereaux is on the run with Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko), a relief worker who may know the whereabouts to a girl who witnessed Federov commit war crimes during the second Chechen war. The CIA wants this witness as well and send Devereaux’s former protege, David Mason (Luke Bracey) after him. The plot is typical but solid spy thriller stuff, with plenty of twists, double crosses and fake outs to keep things interesting. It might be a little overstuffed or trying to hard to do everything as the character development of Mason and Devereaux, who have a kind of father/son relationship, is not fleshed out that well and it takes away a bit of the impact when they go head to head.
It’s great to see Brosnan back in a similar role to Bond and he still has both the action chops and the wit and charm that, at least I, loved about his time as Bond. He gets to be slightly grittier and ruthless in The November Man, most likely taking a cue from Liam Neeson. Luke Bracey feels like someone that Hollywood is trying to turn into the next Chris Hemsworth, as both hail from Australia, but Bracey just feels completely generic in The November Man. His face never moves from a grimace and he delivers his line in a gruff monotone. I definitely don’t see the new Johnny Utah in him. Olga Kurylenko is fine and definitely seems to be getting better as an actress compared to her earlier roles in Max Payne and Hitman. It’s a fun coincidence that she’s a former Bond girl joining a former Bond. Will Patton is completely wasted as a generic CIA higher up who may or may not be a part of the conspiracy.
After a bunch of recent neutered PG-13 action movies, it’s always welcome to see an action movie that embraces it’s R rating and The November Man does not hold back with the squibs and slams to the face (I think there are about 4 or 5 different times where someone just gets absolutely crushed in the face with something). The action is well done throughout with the usual assortment of car chases and shoot outs. There is some excellent use of slo-mo as well in the movie, it’s not overused but just enough to accentuate the impact of a fist or bullet. Brosnan and Bracey have a pretty great fight in a hotel maintenance room to kick off the final act.
If you were a fan of Brosnan’s run as Bond, The November Man is definitely worth checking out for his return to espionage action. It doesn’t do anything mind blowing but it is a solid thriller to close out Summer.