Review

Review: 'The November Man' Is Pierce Brosnan's Unremarkable Return to the Spy Game

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Aug 27, 2014 | 2:29pm EDT

The November ManRelativity Media via Everett Collection

We pick up with Peter Devereaux five years after the incident that convinced him to leave the CIA (the accidental killing of an innocent boy), and with Pierce Brosnan 12 years after the tragic incident that convinced him to leave MI6 (Die Another Day). As is necessarily the case with any former lawman we meet in the first act of a movie, retirement doesn’t last long, and Brosnan’s Devereaux is roped hastily into the agency’s plan to take out a Serbian crime lord.

The “Every time I think I’m out…” turn of fate isn’t the only familiar trait that you’ll find in The November Man. It’s astounding that a movie leaning on contemporary politics and what has got to be one of the first cinematic uses of government drones feels as worn and unoriginal as Roger Donaldson’s spy thriller does.

The November ManRelativity Media via Everett Collection

Jumping jaggedly along from one action set piece to the next, November Man stocks up on a multitude of would-be visceral punches. Betrayals, emotional reveals, and twists upon twists go effectively nowhere as we zoom between hollow characters whose personal makeup is never illustrated beyond tearful close-ups or biographical exposition.

Even without proper characters or cohesive themes, The November Man does manage to keep its energy up. Here and there, we’re allowed genuine interest in the multi-tiered conspiracy theory surrounding the criminals and the agents, or in the adequately delivered action. On occasion, Brosnan takes a dip in the weirder side of the emotional spectrum, enlivening his principally dormant hero Devereaux.

Ultimately, what we get in November Man is unremarkable: spiting drones, Bond-lite revivals, and close-to-home war crimes alike — all delivered capably and painlessly, no less — the film doesn’t show us anything we haven’t seen — and forgotten — time and time again.

2/5

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