If you live in a major metropolitan area, you may or may not have noticed a tonne of marketing for The November Man spring up in the past month. I would bet that after seeing the final product, producers realized they couldn’t depend on good reviews or word of mouth to get people to see this painfully generic spy movie and decided to shell out extra dough for some high quality billboard space. The billboards are trying to capitalize on the only thing the movie has going for it: Brosnan-as-Bond nostalgia. Advertising that “A Spy Is Never Out Of The Game” and even including an actual Bond girl (Quantum of Solace’s Olga Kurylenko) in case the associations weren’t already strong enough. Unfortunately what we actually get is more like a straight-to-DVD follow up of Spy Game than a Bond film. Brosnan plays Paul Deveraux, an ex-CIA operative who goes rogue after his protege (Luke Bracy) kills a woman he knocked up once. Kurylenko plays an attractive social worker who must put on a wig and a sexy dress in an attempt to get revenge on the Russian president elect… oh yeah, they’re in Russia and this is all his fault or something. Because, you know, espionage has to be international.
The billboards are trying to capitalize on the only thing the movie has going for it: Brosnan-as-Bond nostalgia.
The story becomes so convoluted that by the end you don’t really care who’s good and who’s bad. Even Deveraux, who is supposed to the hero, gets drunk and turns sadistic in the middle of a risky operation, severing a civilian woman’s femoral artery as a distraction method. Despite being set-up for several scenes, this is the last time we see her character, but she probably lives. Oh, and she had a sex scene right before that so I guess she served her character’s purpose… Yay for outdated female roles. Pretty much everything about November Man (the story, the characters, the direction) feels dated, because it is. Director Roger Donaldson decided to take the SEVENTH book of a spy series written in the 70s and 80’s by Bill Granger and update it to a stand-alone story set in present day, but it just feels like the 90s with drones and better cell phones. The old-school logic reveals itself when a CIA agent shoots his large computer tower to ‘dispose’ some sensitive information. Donaldson is still stuck in a time when it was cool to have characters walk away from explosions, which they do… several times. Unfortunately the performances don’t bring much to the film either. Part of Brosnan’s charm has always been his Irish accent, which he crudely attempts to cover up with an American one. It feels like Luke Bracey wants to be a star so bad, but his cold stare and chiseled features make you feel like you’re watching someone model, not be a badass. Bracy is playing Johnny Utah in the Point Break remake, which further lowers my expectations for that unnecessary movie, but at least his American accent is better than Brosnan’s (Bracy is a soap actor from Australia). Last week, Relativity Pictures announced that a sequel to The November Man is already in the works. According to ComingSoon.net, it is “soon be entering pre-production,” the key words here being ‘soon’ and ‘pre-’production. This feels like another attempt to drum up interest in a film that nobody really seems to know about, despite posters being plastered all over the city. Even though there are some decent action scenes, I do not see a franchise stemming from November Man. Then again, they’re making third Taken film.