Combustible Celluloid
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With: Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko, Bill Smitrovich, Amila Terzimehic, Lazar Ristovski, Mediha Musliovic, Eliza Taylor, Caterina Scorsone, Akie Kotabe, Will Patton, Patrick Kennedy
Written by: Michael Finch, Karl Gajdusek, based on a novel by Bill Granger
Directed by: Roger Donaldson
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use
Running Time: 108
Date: 08/29/2014

The November Man (2014)

2 Stars (out of 4)

End of the Month

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The new movie The November Man comes from a novel by the late journalist and author Bill Granger, and it has some interesting, novelistic ideas somewhere inside of it.

But as a Hollywood action/thriller, it also contains a few too many dumb ideas and lazy, tired moves.

The movie begins on the mentor-student relationship between two CIA agents, Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) and David Mason (Luke Bracey). A mission goes badly, and they part ways.

Years later, Devereaux's old boss, Hanley (Bill Smitrovich), calls him out of retirement to help bring in a fellow agent, Natalia (Mediha Musliovic), who has been working with a powerful Russian politician, Fedorov (Lazar Ristovski).

Devereaux finds her, but unfortunately Mason is on the scene and the mission ends badly.

Devereaux gets an important name, a girl that might know something about Federov, but the only key to her whereabouts is a beautiful social worker, Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko).

All of this stuff takes place in a high-tech world, where computers can find just about anyone, just about anywhere, at any time.

This raises the stakes, but it also leaves some plot holes wide open, such as, when Devereaux and Alice return to her office to get a file, wouldn't the bad guys be able to find them fairly easily?

Even with all its exacting process and procedure, the movie relies on too many examples of coincidence and ill timing for its suspense. Natalia's theft of information from Federov's safe is a particularly clumsy example.

It relies on the politician's speech being too short (yeah, right), and on the fact that he happens to glance at his safe just moments after returning to his office.

Director Roger Donaldson is a veteran genre filmmaker, having made things like Species, The Recruit, and the excellent The Bank Job. He also worked with Brosnan previously on Dante's Peak. But without good material, he flops.

Themes of whether a man can be both a killer and a human being, or the question of "the-ends-justify-the-means" of world politics, are raised but squashed beneath the wheels of so many car chases and shootouts.

The centerpiece relationship between Devereaux and Mason never really works, either. The pair cannot generate any chemistry or shared history. This could be partly because of Bracey's uninteresting screen presence, or the general laziness of the whole proceedings.

Granger wrote a series of Devereaux books, but it's doubtful we'll see any more movies. He's called "The November Man" because "after he passes through, nothing lives." It's as if he did a number on his own movie.

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