“The November Man”


In an action movie with an aging star, one of three things has to happen in order for it to work: 1) The elder actor has to actually be able to keep up; 2) the character that the elder actor is playing must also be out of his prime; or 3) the elder actor is surrounded with help from younger actors to make his contribution to the action sequences plausible.

“The November Man” tells the story of a retired CIA agent who is brought back into service for an easy extraction mission that leads to a major international scandal.

This movie is a vanity project, plain and simple. Star Pierce Brosnan (who plays lead Peter Devereaux) is also one of the executive producers—the most likely reason he is the star. Throughout the entire picture, Brosnan’s performance wreaks of an “if Stallone can do it, so can I” air and it is painful to watch. He meanders across the screen in a way that suggests that more than trying to catch the bad guy, he’s trying to catch his breath.

In this action movie, Brosnan was surrounded by younger actors. But instead of letting them do the proverbial heavy lifting while his character gives sage advice and makes command decisions, he elects to carry the load himself, which leaves the audience with an aching back.

Be that as it may, Brosnan is only one-third of the ingredients in this recipe for mediocrity. The screenplay, written by Michael Finch and Karl Gajdusek, provides the second ingredient. The script is very convoluted combining contemporary international human rights issues with ’80s Cold War paranoia and the fight for control of a country’s oil rights.

The events in the story line are so discombobulated that even in the end there is no clear indication of who the good guys and bad guys are and two of the pivotal characters are left with no resolution at all.

The final ingredient in this failure is poor direction. In terms of film aesthetics, Roger Donaldson directed a movie that comes across as an ’80s James Bond film starring Roger Moore.

With the exceptions of Peter Devereaux and David Mason (played by Luke Bracey), each of the characters are stereotypes of an era of filmmaking gone by. There is a refugee turned social worker whose life is in danger because she holds the secret that has the ability to turn the entire free world upside down, a drunk Russian general turned politician with a secret to hide, a rogue CIA agent who will stop at nothing in his quest to spread American idealism, a sleazy pimp/informant, and, of course, a femme fatale.

Not surprisingly, the movie is adapted from the 1987 novel “There Are No Spies” by Bill Granger. It appears that instead of either making a contemporary adaptation or sticking to the period in which the novel was written, the filmmakers attempted to do both and failed miserably.

Verdict: No matter what month it is, “The November Man” is an average movie at best.