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An ex-CIA operative is brought back in on a very personal mission and finds himself pitted against his former pupil in a deadly game involving high level CIA officials and the Russian president-elect.

Title :The November Man (2014)
Rating :6.3/10
Release : 4 March 2016
Genre : Action, Crime, Thriller
Runtime:1h 48min
Director:Roger Donaldson
Writers:Michael Finch
Stars :Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko

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The November Man (2014) trailer

The November Man (2014) movie review

Imagine if you will that ‘The Bourne Identity’ and ‘Taken’ loved one another very much. And as a product of that love, those two films made another film, which they named ‘The November Man.’ That movie eventually grew up in a punch-filled, but relatively happy home. It was provided for and given everything it could ever want, until one day, it became superficially aware of the various components and narrative beats that made its parents so successful. As time passed, ‘The November Man’ yearned to continue in the family tradition, to carry on its lineage of box office hits about men with a certain set of skills, embroiled in an international free-for-all. Alas, despite its best efforts, the young film wound up becoming every prosperous parent’s worst nightmare: a bungling, inept offspring whose attempt at repeating that for which its parents had earned their reputation feels like a paltry replication and leads to little more than its own complete embarrassment.

Pierce Brosnan may have produced this chimeric action tale with the idea that it would launch a potential franchise, but ‘The November Man’ is far from the sort of vehicle deserving of an actor who once played James Bond. Instead, the film, directed by previous Brosnan collaborator Roger Donaldson (‘Dante’s Peak’) is a hollow, incoherent, cliché-ridden mess that rides its star’s considerable charm so completely that, by the film’s end, even the usually luminous Brosnan is straining to deliver more than a 10-watt smile.

The story begins with a lengthy and unnecessary opening sequence in which Brosnan’s soon-to-be-retired CIA operative Peter Devereaux and his young, impetuous protégé David Mason (Luke Macey) bungle an operation, leaving an innocent young bystander dead because Mason can’t follow orders. For reasons unknown, the story then jumps ahead five years when Devereaux’s former handler, Hanley (Bill Smitrovich), convinces him to come out of retirement. The mission: to aid in the efforts to discredit the future president of Russia, Arkady Federov (Lazar Ristoviski). The added incentive being that Devereaux’s former flame, Natalia Ulanova (Mediha Musliovic), works for Federov and is feeding intel to the CIA.

At this point, Will Patton shows up as Perry Weinstein, a CIA handler who looks like a cross between Chris Cooper’s ‘Bourne’ character, Alexander Conklin, and Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison. Weinstein is the archetypal governmental character: cold, calculating and willing to see his own men perish in the line of duty, so long as the job at hand is accomplished. The only problem is: the “job at hand” has become increasingly opaque. That doesn’t stop things from once again going awry when Weinstein positions Mason and his team against Devereaux, resulting in yet another unnecessary death that sparks a tense face-off between the student and the master, and ends with them both walking away from an explosion without looking back (that’s right, this movie has two, not one, but two badasses who just don’t have time to respond to things blowing up).

Much to the movie’s detriment, what begins as a rote, but superficially engaging story of a teacher and his one-time pupil at odds with one another – complete with enough “old man who can still kick ass” references to choke an elephant – turns into something else entirely. After their initial encounter, Mason and Devereaux interact primarily over the phone, eliminating any real sense of tension or excitement. The pair’s dealings are pushed further toward the margins when the story introduces Alice (Olga Kurylenko), a social worker who can confirm claims Federov incited the war with Chechnya to improve his own political capital. With Devereaux vowing to keep Alice safe, he is conveniently distracted from his quest to seek revenge against Mason. What’s worse, despite the presence of a clear puppet master, Devereaux ostensibly remains ignorant that Weinstein even exists.

Throw in yet another assassin (this time, a woman, played by Amila Terzimehic) chasing Alice, and a Pulitzer-chasing reporter played by Patrick Kennedy (‘Downton Abbey’), and the result is a convoluted string of subplots, whose sole purpose, it seems, is to keep the narrative from becoming a cohesive whole. Too often, potentially compelling plot points are left to wither, while seemingly important, adversarial characters fail to cross paths with one another. At one point, the seams on what feels like a fairly substantial rewrite are clear as day, when Weinstein suddenly disappears and his absence is glossed over with such blatant nonchalance you’re left to wonder if he’s gone to get his mother soup with Wes Bentley’s character from ‘Gone.’ Around the same time, Devereaux’s daughter is introduced, while Alice’s story takes a sudden ludicrous twist, and, in keeping with the film’s fear of having characters interact with one another, neither amounts to anything more than a last minute plot devices to raise the stakes in an already tension-free narrative.

Although ‘The November Man’ turns out some well-executed action set pieces, it is, overall, a wildly unsuccessful film that makes the same mistake too many burly action flicks make: it confuses “complicated” with “complex.” The result is a busy mishmash of action conventions that spends too much time thinking of ways to keep its characters occupied, and not enough time working to make them, their relationships, or their circumstances interesting.