There seems to be a popular trend these days with certain actors when they approach or surpass their 60s. For some reason, when male actors reach this decade, they decide to star in violent, explosive, sometimes entertaining action/thrillers. It apparently started in 2008 with Liam Neeson in Taken, continued in 2010 with Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables, and was evident earlier this year with Kevin Costner in 3 Days to Kill, and so on. Post-midlife crisis cinematic bloodbaths are all the rage nowadays and Pierce Brosnan’s latest actioner The November Man firmly reinforces that fact. It is a ridiculous quasi-interesting spy thriller that features decent performances, lots of dead bodies, and little less.
Based on Bill Granger’s novel There Are No Spies, it is the seventh installment in The November Man series. It follows Peter Devereaux (Brosnan), a former CIA agent who is brought out of retirement when he learns of a twisted European political plot. He is then forced to protect a witness, Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko), who has vital information regarding said plot. Complications bubble up when Devereaux’s former protégé David Mason’s (Luke Bracey) alliance shifts and his motives, unclear. Of course, while Deveraux is providing protection for Fournier, danger comes their way from pretty much every direction and flying bullets and explosions follow them at every turn.
The November Man is your standard spy thriller. It is violent, overly complicated, and full of morally ambiguous characters. Brosnan is in fine form as Devereaux, the title character. He may be desperately clinging to his glory days as 007 and that’s fine. He does an admirable job of it. It’s just unfortunate that the plot is jumbled and the dialogue, a bit cliché. There are some scenes and moments that will surprise you but for the most part, they will seem all too familiar. Double crossing and switching of allegiances are at the forefront and many viewers will eat this up. More seasoned film-goers will see past this and judge the film for what it really is, mediocre action fodder.
As mentioned earlier, action stars in their 60s are definitely something of a fad. With The November Man, Brosnan is perpetuating this growing stereotype. Sadly, Michael Finch and Karl Gajdusek’ script is weak and by the numbers. There isn’t any originality to their dialogue and many of the scenes fall flat. Veteran director Roger Donaldson (The Bank Job, Dante’s Peak, No Way Out) does a solid job behind the camera and he has a firm grasp of the action sequences. He and Brosnan are the film’s only saving graces and their work and chemistry is solidified here, 17 years after their volcano-themed adventure Dante’s Peak.
The November Man is not a classic by any means. It isn’t even that great for B-movie standards. What kills the whole film is its ludicrous and often predictable plot. Brosnan and Bill Smitrovich (who plays Devereaux’s old spy buddy in the film) actually share some of the movie’s better scenes together and their acting is one of the strongest aspects of the picture. Audiences will definitely enjoy this stale uninteresting action junk and they will only ever view Brosnan as a standard action hero when in reality, he is a truly gifted actor capable of much, much more.