Sunday, September 14, 2014

The November Man (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The November Man

 In Roger  Donaldson's "The November Man", Pierce Brosnan has a solid outing in the time honored genre of the spy / hit man film. Here Brosnan plays an aging agent and "fixer", Peter Devereaux. He is sent to keep a watch over things, including the despicable and sadistic Federov (Lazar Ristovski) who has a repulsive past. When Devereaux's agent / wife gets shot, Devereaux, understandably has a death wish of sorts. His young disciple, David Mason (Luke Bracey)  is working for a rival agency up to no good.

Through the witnessing of his wife's shooting, Devereaux meets the smoldering beauty, Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko) and resolves to help her. Fournier has a personal vendetta against Federov with good reason.

Brosnan is a steady as iron compassionate savage, if that makes sense. As a parallel to The Bourne films, the action is tense and apprehensive with Devereaux using his James Bond and even Macgyver wiles, usually involving explosives.

Brosnan and Bracey deliver the bone crunching goods with some thrilling Saturday matinee chasing. The earnest and surprised Kurylenko does well too, as a smoky mascara femme fatale who is driven to brutally avenge a warlord and sex criminal.

There is also a sinister female killer Alexa ( Amila Terzimehic) who is as scary as Daniel Craig in a bad mood.

The film falters a bit, however, by being conventional. Brosnan does a good job doing his tight and terse act, but his emotions don't vary much; he is beaten and battered, bruised and wincing throughout. David Mason, while showing himself a nihilistic prick at the story's beginning is neither anti-hero nor angel. With a promising start, his manner never really surprises. He is a bit of a blank slate. A machine in the image of Matt Damon. After a well done and jumpy prologue of twin father against twin son, the narrative goes thru a bit of a checklist routine of bond-able moments (the hunted man, the sultry girl, the evil kingpin etc).

If you are in the mood for a cat-and-mouse thriller that shadow boxes and delivers the punch on time, "The November Man" does well in spite of some gratuitous, slow motion blood gushing.

But for the more edgy among us, you will search in vain every nook and cranny from Montenegro to Milan for a more satisfying and ambiguous battle of wills between spy versus spy.

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1 comment:

Ron Andrei said...

Ian; A pretty good take on this movie except I found the acting to pretty weak at times, surprising even a weak at times performance from Brosnan. He seemed to not really care at times, almost bored. The thinly veiled fling between his character and Kurylenko's seemed a bit unnecessary. As for his protege, he couldn't even get his jeans on in a rush, not what one would expect from a high-level CIA type.

I felt that the movie dragged too much at times and was trying too hard. I had such high hopes for this but alas the previews were better than the movie.

To quote the much missed film critic Jay Sherman, "It stinks".