Rated: R for strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: August 27, 2014 Released by: Relativity Media
Esteemed Roger Donaldson (No Way Out,Thirteen Days and The Bank Job) desperately tries to make a gritty, plausibly hardcore espionage tale based on Bill Granger's novel There Are No Spies from the Peter Devereaux series which appeared some 27 years ago.
Having Pierce Brosnan headline and produce the uneven, by-the-numbers The November Man as the CIA agent drawn out of retirement combines elements from the likes of John LeCarre and Robert Ludlum still makes one yearn for his super spy fantasy heyday as 007 even before the series went back to something what Ian Fleming originally imagined.
Not to say that the sturdy Irish-American actor isn't game in a sonorous enterprise that veers from nobility to sadism as the sanguine can be rather static as represented on the silver screen. At least this isn't an 'origin tale' when initially in 2008 in Montenegro (also featured in Casino Royale) Peter's admonished understudy David Mason (Luke Bracey) fatally mishandles a mission as a familial relation is related for a while.
An unrefined script by Michael Finch and Karl Gajdusek has Devereaux stripped of an idyllic Swiss seclusion five years hence by Langley head Handley (Bill Smitrovich) and led into Moscow which gets him embroiled into a web of conspiracy involving devious Russian politico Federov (Lazar Ristovski) with a past that hits the agent hard and into the company of Mason which turns out to be of the cat-and-mouse variety.
A conventional game of survival has a serviceable Brosnan (but better in his post-007 days in films like The Matador) at its disposal, but Bracey can't manage a performance to make a charming, if cunning conflict from secrets buried in a post-Cold War era around a Second Chechen War. Maybe because the narrative and characters themselves are rather a convoluted bunch; Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion, Quantum of Solace) registers as a Serbian social worker to whom Peter becomes attached and gives interesting directives who's the target of a vicious, very lissome assassin because of a connection to the Russian president. And, Will Patton is the bumptious, ethically challenged top official in an uninteresting, too inferior spy caper that at least makes good of its European locales. A tale, indeed, that is more in line in quality with his last outing starring Nicolas Cage, Seeking Justice.
|The November Man||B||B||D+||C+||B-||B-|