John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

November Man Poster

The November Man

Genre: Action and Adventure, Thrille

Director: Roger Donaldson

Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko, Eliza Taylor, Caterina Scorsone, Bill Smitrovich, Will Patton

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: August 27th, 2014

“You can be a human or a killer of humans but you can’t be both.” So states the title character in the new thriller The November Man starring Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan seems to want to return to his James Bond days here as he stars as an assassin suddenly targeted for elimination by a former pupil.

Like in many of the Bond movies, generic this feature offers up beautiful women, plenty of gunplay and violence and Pierce Brosnan as the star. The November Man shares a lot of similarities with Brosnan’s Bond features except for one big thing: its quality.

This movie is awful.

It begins with an illogical premise and then goes from there. In the opening scene, Devereaux (Brosnan)— a.k.a. The November Man— is sent to protect a Congressman from an assassination attempt. To make the assassin believe that Devereaux is this politician, Devereaux puts on the politician’s clothes but does little else to change his appearance. The assassin, it seems, is just supposed to see the suit jacket, assume that the suit belongs to the Congressman and then fire his gun. He stupidly does but there’s a tragic ending to this mission which eventually leads to an estrangement between Devereaux and his apprentice Mason (Luke Bracey), the shooter who brings down the would-be assassin.

It should be noted that, like in this opening scene, this action movie never shies away from the grotesqueness of violence. Unlike the more sanitized Bond movies, this feature will likely cause audiences to cringe because of the amount of gruesomeness it offers in its scenes of bullets flying, throats being cut and the inevitable hand-to-hand combat that comes into play. It’s like the movie is trying to shock audiences (can you believe we showed that much blood?, the filmmakers seem to be asking) with its brutal visuals.

The broken relationship between Devereaux and Mason eventually comes back to haunt both as Mason is assigned to kill his former teacher. (If you think you’ve seen this movie before, you probably have.)

Based on the book There are no Spies, the drama falters in even its small ambitions. Devereaux, who is supposed to be the hero, is willing to use brutal violence and threats to get his way making him an extremely unlikeable lead. The plot concerning the cover-up that Devereaux has to get to the bottom of (of course there’s a cover-up) is superficial and quite disgusting (a Russian leader’s talk about raping a little girl and making her a woman is enough to make you want to walk out of the theater). And the dialogue, where even high government officials talk like bros at a frat party, is absolutely disgraceful.

“I don’t hate him. He’s probably the best friend I ever had,” the main character notes about his former student after Mason has tried to kill him. The joke is supposed to bring comedy to this serious feature but instead it points out the stupidity of the whole endeavor. None of the relationships here– including the main one between Devereaux and Mason–is built with any style or substance. These relationships were set up to let this movie go through its silly motions and pretend to be better than it actually is.

The November Man only stands out because of the grotesqueness of its violence and that’s not something to be proud of at all. It’s one of the year’s worst films.

Review by: John Hanlon