Review: 'November Man' is low quality with a high body count
Pierce Brosnan's perfect hair barely budges in the breeze, he fixes his eyes in that narrowed, steely stare and you remember, yes, he was a pretty good James Bond.
But he's not Bond, not at 61. He's this fellow named Devereaux, and back in the day, when he showed up for an assignment, it was like winter had hit. Everything was dead. That's why they called Devereaux “The November Man.”
Here's a humorless, muddled, bloody and generally unpleasant thriller about an ex-agent sucked back into The Business because somebody needs his help. Or somebody knows something. Or some protege has gone stone-cold killer.
That's one of the problems with this Roger Donaldson film. It leaves us with no clear sense of who to root for, or what. Is the CIA out to get Devereaux and his lady friend? The Russians? Some rogue amalgam of the two?
About all we're sure of is the body count, built on bullets and sharp, bloody blades, piles up — first scene to last.
Devereaux trained Mason, played by Luke Bracey of the last “G.I. Joe” movie. They're fellow agents, experts on “threat analysis” and how to put a bullet in that threat. Years later, Devereaux is summoned by the old boss (Bill Smitrovich) to fetch a woman out of Russia, an agent who has “a name.” That name could be the downfall of Russia's next leader.
Things go haywire in fetching the woman (Olga Kurylenko) — and in the movie. Mason is after him. Spirited chases through Moscow, guns blazing and tires screeching, give one a whole new appreciation for the place.
Eventually, teacher, pupil and quarry and CIA hunters (Will Patton, Caterina Scorsone) and a Russian pony-tailed ballerina-turned-assassin (Amila Terzimehic) all wind up in Belgrade, which apparently is where the money men and women decided was the cheapest place to film this movie.
This late-August cast-off is what one can easily spy as a “producers-on-the-make” movie. It has the obligatory strip-club scene, with lithe and willing nude dancers. It has a spirited, nude sex scene. And, in every shot, indoors or out, we see the best-looking extras this side of “America's Next Top Model.”
Those elements don't do anything for the plot, the action or anything else. But they have a leering “value” to some in the audience and, more likely, in the production office.
Through it all, Brosnan keeps his cool and delivers his lines as an older, if not over-the-hill, Bond-“type.”
But a few pithy lines, seriously stunt-doubled fights and the odd blast of blood don't give the story clarity or the characters a compelling reason for us to engage in their dilemma.
Roger Moore reviews movies for McClatchy News Service.