This week, I discovered that only one theater within my immediate 50 miles is showing Pierce Brosnan’s new film, The November Man. Secondly that this is deserved.
Pierce “Remmington Steele” Brosnan stars as ex-CIA agent Peter Deveroux, who is dragged out of retirement for one last job when a Russian spy wants to defect with information that could bring modern Russia to its knees. The op goes bad and Deveroux is forced to try and pick up the pieces of a mystery while his young CIA apprentice hunts him down. There are twists and turns and action along the way.
First off- this movie isn’t good. Well, it’s not bad, either. It’s serviceable, and refreshingly CGI free. But it’s really just mediocre- and as I’ve pointed out before, that’s the worst thing a movie can be. I think that it’s a better made movie than last time’s The Expendables 3, but it’s also a less-fun movie.
So let’s break this down:
Let me start off by saying that Pierce Brosnan is great in this. Pierce Brosnan is also absolutely psychotic in this, but more on that later. He’s remained a decent actor throughout his career- and also unlike The Expendables 3, it doesn’t seem unrealistic or cartoony for him to be involved with action chases and shoot-outs. He still has that sort of James Bond flavor to him.
Unfortunately, his character is really muddled- the movie is never really clear about his motivations. The plot really starts off when Brosnan is sent on one last mission to covertly pick up an old acquaintance- this mission is so secret that his CIA contact doesn’t even tell the rest of the CIA. Unfortunately, this leads to Brosnan’s friend (and secret lover) being killed by Brosnan’s old apprentice when the operation goes south. Oh, man, so now Brosnan’s all hard-core bitter revenge, right? Nope. Later on, he outright says to his apprentice that it’s not about her in the least. Okay… so is this just plot contrived convenience?
Brosnan’s portrayal is actually marvelously powerful and conflicted. It’s actually nice to see a spy who acts like a spy- it is a stark contrast with his Bond days. Mainly, because like a lot of actual spies, Deveroux is a goddamn psychopath. Deveroux kills CIA agents (which are usually depicted as goodish guys) without remorse or a second thought, but that’s not the real turning point for audience empathy. Deveroux’s apprentice, played by amateur Sean Bean lookalike Luke Bracey, falls in love with his neighbor. Deveroux stakes out his apartment, and breaks in while he sleeps to kidnap her. This leads to a tense standoff where Deveroux lectures Not-Sean-Bean about not being cut out for the CIA. Deveroux then slits the femoral artery of Bracey’s love interest, Sarah, and forces him to choose between her and the mission- and this is the guy we’re supposed to be rooting for. It was a little refreshing/startling to see this in a movie, unfortunately it throws all audience empathy out with it.
I started to root for Not-Sean-Bean to kill Brosnan after this. Even when Brosnan’s daughter gets kidnapped you can’t help but still feel uncomfortable siding with him. And while almost every other person gets their just desserts, Brosnan still rides away into the sunset. Worst of all? We don’t even find out if Sarah lived or not. The last we see of her is Luke Bracey getting into an ambulance with her.
I would not recommend this movie in the least. It has a few interesting twists and turns and some refreshingly novel elements- but all in all squanders them.
If you want to see great post-Bond Pierce Brosnan, check out The Matador, co-starring Greg Kinnear and Brosnan’s insurmountable mustache.
Brosnan stars as a washed-up assassin who meets washed-up salesman Greg Kinnear, the two become friends and eventually help each other get their careers back on track. It’s a lovely dark comedy and wonderfully shows off Brosnan’s comedy chops
Be sure to check out my other column Trope-ic Thunder, where I discuss science tropes in the media.
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