As a longtime Pierce Brosnan appreciator, our eagerness for him to slip back into the cinematic spy game in The November Man was off the charts. But then, the film itself would have to deliver because as we all know, one enigmatic movie star does not a full spy thriller make.
We can proudly say that what was teased in that first The November Man trailer has come to fruition as a full-fledged espionage yarn that truly cooks while simultaneously not forgetting to present fully developed characters along the way.
Brosnan moves past James Bond and plays Peter Deveraux, a seasoned spook for the CIA who, as our film begins, is on a mission to stop an assassination attempt with his younger charge Mason, played expertly by Luke Bracey. When it goes horribly wrong, Brosnan walks away to live a quieter life in Switzerland. Before long, he is drawn back into the game when someone he cares about needs his help getting out of a sticky situation. Of course, nothing is as it seems and the thrills begin.
And what results is a game of cat and mouse with his former charge, his old bosses and a political system in Russia and Serbia that has Deveraux wondering who is good, who is bad and who is playing both sides.
Director Roger Donaldson and screenwriter Michael Finch took the best parts of Bill Granger’s book There Are No Spies, and as a certain spy who has a license to kill shows, the viewer can tell that this film is based on a spy series from a writer with rich prose.
Things are complex, as the best spy stories should be, and why The November Man works for us so much is because of the performance of Brosnan. He emits so much with his eyes and his face that you can tell he is working it all out. This is one veteran pro and it takes a lot to get by him, yet when he is stunned, we are stunned, and it sets up a whole new set of obstacles for our hero to navigate.
There are twists and turns throughout, again as a great spy movie should have, and the supporting cast all know their roles inside and out -- which greatly adds to this rich landscape. Of particular note is Olga Kurylenko as Alice, a woman who works at a Serbian center that helps Eastern European women who have suffered through the illegal sex trafficking trade. She will prove to be a huge part of this story, and the former Bond girl working closely with a former Bond all adds up to one fun, thrilling and smart ride.
One more thing about Brosnan. He has not missed a beat since he was forcibly retired from that 007 franchise. He is largely why this film is so riveting. The actor is enigmatic and commands every eye when he is on screen. And what's even more impressive about his characterization of the Deveraux persona is even when he isn't on screen, we feel his presence... everywhere.
Our The November Man review also can see why The November Man 2 has been green lit. With such a rich literary history, and such a solid first outing as Deveraux, we cannot wait to see Brosnan back in action again… and soon.