Brosnan still the man
For those of us who feel like the James Bond franchise is missing Pierce Brosnan more than most people are willing to admit, “The November Man” is a welcome throwback spy thriller that is as old-fashioned as it is derivative, but gives fans a taste of the former 007 agent. While this low budget film can’t compete with blockbusters like the recent Bond offerings (or the Jason Bourne or “Mission Impossible” franchises), sometimes an adaptation of a decent espionage novel (in this case Bill Granger’s “There are No Spies) is like pizza, even when its average, it is still pretty good.
Brosnan plays Peter Devereaux, a highly trained, highly dangerous CIA agent who is persuaded to come out of a relaxing retirement by an old boss (Bill Smitrovich). There are all the ingredients seemingly required of the genre, a former protégé who must kill his mentor, moles and informants aplenty, corrupted Russian officials, gorgeous women lurking around every corner, and revved-up car chases down crowded streets.
The workman-like setups and action sequences would be boring without Brosnan’s compelling presence, exhibiting his trademark charisma despite his character’s murky morality. And as usual, he’s at his best working alongside an attractive sidekick, in this case Olga Kurylenko as a social worker who may have critical information about an underage sex slave that could bring down a top Russian official.
Admit it: Aren’t we just a little happy the Russians are bad guys again? The spy genre was a little less exciting without them. The Cold War is heating up again, and that’s a good thing—for the film industry, anyway.
Brosnan’s recent career has flown under the radar. But he’s had his share of terrific post-Bond films, including critically applauded turns in “The Matador,” “The Tailor of Panama” and the criminally under-seen “Evelyn” that have demonstrated his acting versatility.
No offense to the steely Daniel Craig, who has given Bond an edge that the franchise’s fans adore, but it would have been interesting to see what Brosnan might have done if he had continued on as Agent 007 and been given similarly improved screenplays.
We’ll never know. But Brosnan’s fans should see “The November Man,” not for its originality, which it certainly lacks, but for its star who in many ways is still The Man.
Rated “R” for strong violence including a sexual assault, sexuality/nudity, brief drug use and profanity including about 21 “F” words.