REVIEW: The November Man (2014) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: The November Man (2014)


Runtime: 108 Mins
Rated: R
What To Expect: Brosnan starring as a killer, not a womanizing cocktail sipper

“You know what we used to call you, Peter? The November Man, because after you passed through, nothing lived. You were one bleak motherfucker” This might sound at odds with Pierce Brosnan’s grinning James Bond. It is. I wonder if Brosnan watched Taken and appreciated what that movie did for the career of Liam Neeson and thought, “I need some of this.” Brosnan is more callous in this movie, probably more than we’ve ever seen. And it’s good for him and refreshing for us.

In Russia, a new presidential hopeful is ready to take the seat, but before he does he must eliminate former western agents who have dirt on him from the past, to rule out external blackmail while at the top. But one of his aides has dirt on him in the present and she wants extraction from Russia, but she’ll only leave and provide the inside information if Brosnan is the man to pick her up. You see, this kind of story works for a movie like this. A man killing threats to his potential presidency is more realistic than some camp supervillain like we seen in the last Bond movie. And since it’s more realistic, we respect it more and are drawn in more easily. This compliments The November Man’s forward and brutish look at gritty espionage.

Another thing I like about this movie is that it plays on anti governmemt cynicism and has Brosnan go rogue, so that neither the Eastern nor Western status quo are the good guys, that’s not a spoiler either, you could probably glean it from the trailer/s. This worked well for the Bourne series, where Bourne is essentially at war with his own government.

This movie has problems. It has a centre act that doesn’t really do much and as a result tries to up the ante by adding a few too many twists and a few too many characters. Which is kind of pointless because by the end, the story evens out again and returns to its basic espionage/corruption slant. They really should have ironed that out, it almost drags the movie deep into mediocrity. The movie is also another Eastern European deal, filmed in Serbia this time. And while there’s nothing wrong with Eastern Europe, there’s a growing stigma that if your movie had to move there, somebody with bigger pockets didn’t have confidence in it. In the original novel, the movie was set in Berlin. The story changes to facilitate its move to Serbia. Is it a problem really? Not so much, the cinematography is nicer than something like The Expendables 3, but I do hope the sequel moves elsewhere.

The movie is not strong, but something that elevates it is the fact that it is an honest to goodness grown up movie. It’s a ‘Hard-R’, with gratuitous sex and nudity. It’s violent but also not violent for the sake of it, when blood appears, it facilitates what is actually happening as opposed to trying to score points off the viewer. So it helps a movie that is pitching itself as a gritty tell-it-like-it-is spy thriller. I think the rumored plan to turn it PG-13 might have killed it.

I almost feel like this movie has been shortened, by the way. Maybe there’s a longer cut being readied for home release. There’s a sequel coming too. So while the first isn’t a classic, it certainly lays the groundwork for potential…