With Pierce Brosnan playing some kind of remorseless, badass, super spy, being directed by the man who crafted 'No Way Out', one of my personal favorite spy thrillers, I don't think we can go too terribly wrong with this movie 'The November Man'. But I guess if we give it just a little bit of thought, Mr. Brosnan hasn't been James Bond in a good fifteen years and Roger Donaldson directed 'No Way Out' way back in 1987. Maybe we can go wrong. Ultimately however, we enjoyed 'The November Man' even though it is a bit unfocused.
Peirce Brosnan is Peter Devereaux, a former blunt instrument of destruction for some agency who has years ago hung up his Glock for the simple life with his twelve year old daughter Lucy. Then one day his old friend and handler Hanley (Bill Smitrovich) comes a calling with the news that his former lady love, and Lucy's mom, the spy Natalia (Mediha Musilovic) is in some trouble in the USSR and she will only come out of the cold, along with some critical information, if Peter is the one to retrieve her.
As much as Peter hates do this, his woman is in need and off he goes. Of course in the USSR everything goes all to heck, and Peter is unable to save Natalia. Three immediate problems. One is that Peter and Natalia's own people ordered the kill, for security reasons. Two is that this kill was performed by Peter's former pupil and good friend Mason (Luke Bracey) and three is that Natalia did not request Peter's assistance.
Peter needs to know why his woman is dead and he is in the process of killing an awful lot of people to get this information. The Agency in return needs Peter dead and has dispatched his former student to execute this action. Peter's trail has led him to a young social worker named Alice (Olga Kurylenko) who may have a line on some explosive information that may derail the presidency of this realities version of Vladimir Putin, with this dude eliminating loose ends like it's nobody's business, and Alice as it turns out is a pretty serious loose end.
So as the situation plays out, Peter is trying to protect Alice, Alice the social worker has her own agenda, Mason the pupil really wants his teacher dead, if only to impress the principle, and off to the side there's an assassin (Amila Terzimehic) who I guess wants everybody dead. And you usually don't put adorable twelve year old girls in movies like this simply because they are cute. Confusion and death shall ensue.
I say that 'The November Man' is confusing, but it really isn't. In fact, it's pretty simplistic. Watch Peter shoot people for what I'm sure is a good reason. One of the benefits of making Pierce Brosnan the star of your spy thriller is that you instantly accept a lot of this nonsense simply because of his presence. Peter is talking and I'm sure if I paid attention it wouldn't make much sense, but hey, it's Pierce Brosnan talking so it just sounds cool. Peter is shooting and cutting and stabbing people, a lot of whom probably really don't deserve to die, but hey, it's Pierce Brosnan shooting these people so I'm sure they got it coming some way or another. Sure, Peter Devereaux is an incredibly inconsistent character, telling his charge not have personal involvements while he has his own family on the side which only serves the purpose of turning into what he was warning about anyway. Or killing people indiscriminately, but imploring other people not to kill when they have every reason on earth to actually kill someone.
Also, Peter's goal in this movie was certainly a malleable one. Let's find out why they killed his woman. Okay, kind of know… not really… stopped caring… let's then protect the perfect facial bone structure that is Olga Kurylenko. Okay… tired of doing that… now lets solve the mystery of something or another. Mystery kind of solved… maybe… let's go back to finding out why my woman is dead… oh… they have my daughter. I should probably save her… or maybe I should save the social worker. Just so you know Peter actually saves none of these people. I'm not saying they are dead, just that Peter doesn't save them. Simple movie, really, just that everything around it was fairly incoherent.
Still, I enjoyed 'The November Man'. Why? Because as it turn out, you truly can't go too terribly wrong with Pierce Brosnan speaking, driving fast, having a stiff drink and shooting people in the head. It's a win-win scenario. Because Olga Kurylenko is super pretty and we don't want to see anything bad happen to her, even in pretend. Because Roger Donaldson has been directing movies since before most of us were even born and can make even the most banal nonsense come across as somewhat entertaining. Except maybe 'Cocktail'. 'The November Man', all things said, is probably not a good movie. But I liked it anyway. What can you do?