"The November Man" (R) ** (out of four)
You would think a movie with a title like "The November Man" would play well during a popular moviegoing time like, well, November. But truth be told, the movie deserves its paltry, end-of-summer release slot, a traditionally slower time at the box office since older students are heading back to college and parents are getting their younger kids back to school.
The shaky time frame "The November Man" is being released in is a shame, mainly because of the talent involved. Pierce Brosnan is well-suited for the material thanks to his time as James Bond, and director Roger Donaldson has a decent resume (including the Kevin Costner thrillers "No Way Out" and "13 Days" – a nail biting dramatic recreation of the Cuban Missile Crisis). However, like any movie, an actor or filmmaker is only as good as the script, and the script for "The November Man" is a huge disappointment.
Brosnan plays Peter Devereaux, an ex-CIA operative who got out of the game in 2008 after his anxious and inexperienced protégé and partner, David Mason (Luke Bracey), made a fatal mistake during a mission.
Five years later, Devereaux is dragged back into an operation by a former CIA boss because it involves a former lover. Naturally, the gig goes south in a hurry, and Devereaux suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the CIA – and in a cat-and-mouse game with his now seasoned and proficient ex-partner.
Complicating matters, Devereaux is trying to protect a social worker (Olga Kurylenko) who knows where to find a missing woman who has a dark secret that could destroy a former Russian general's run for the country's presidency.
Brosnan is pretty much the only recognizable star in "The November Man," and given the former super-spy credibility that he earned over four Bond films, he's pretty much all you need to appeal to audiences of action crime genre. The 61-year-old actor no doubt still has the swagger and charisma that elevated him as British double-agent, and in somewhat of a character evolution, Brosnan is given a harder-edged character to play with; it's an R-rated thriller with more murder and mayhem than you'd ever see in a 007 film.
The problem is, as the movie wears on, Brosnan and Donaldson try to assemble a story out of a convoluted plot, and they can only stretch their skills so far amid the confusion. If you end up saving a date for "The November Man," only expect some shocking violence sequences and empty action thrills at best. As the movie devolves into action movie silliness toward the end, you can't help but lament how "The November Man" falls far short of its potential.
Tim Lammers is a veteran entertainment reporter and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. He annually votes on the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Locally, he reviews films for BringMeTheNews, “KARE 11 News at 11” and various Minnesota radio stations.