“The November Man,” a new spy thriller starring Pierce Brosnan, has some James Bondian elements. There’s Olga Kurylenko, who was the Bond girl in “Quantum of Solace,” loads of intrigue and exotic locations. What makes this character different from Brosnan’s Bond are the gadgets. There aren’t any. The only gadgets he has here are two fists and a gun.
Brosnan plays Peter Devereaux, a violent CIA agent nick named the November Man, because once he passes through, nothing lives. He’s given up his lethal ways, and now enjoys a quiet retirement in Switzerland. When the proverbial one last job— extracting his former wife out of a sticky situation in Belgrade—goes wrong, he gets embroiled in a case that sees him protecting a witness Alice Fournier (Kurylenko) who could bring down the next president of Russia and dodging bullets from his former CIA protégé David Mason (Luke Bracey).
Based on Bill Granger’s novel “There are No Spies” from the bestselling November Man book series, the movie begins as a taut thriller but soon turns from perfectly functional espionage story to a messy tale of personal grudges and unresolved daddy issues.
The story splinters off in several directions, making perhaps one too many u-turns along the way, but ultimately succeeds because Brosnan brings the Bond. Sure, it’s more the violent Daniel Craig style 007, but it’s great fun to see the actor back in action man mode.
He punches, shoots and kicks his way through the movie, even when the story threatens to overpower him.
Director Roger Donaldson (“The Bank Job,” “No Way Out”) stages several exciting chase scenes and builds tension and even develops some subtext about the consequences of leading a violent life—“You can be a human or a killer of humans, but you can’t be both.”—but veers off into melodrama every now and again. By the time a bad guy says (NO SPOILERS HERE), “You just doomed us to another decade of conflict,” you could be forgiven for thinking “The November Man” was a cold war thriller parody.
As it is the movie is a somewhat generic thriller buoyed by Brosnan’s badass Bondness.