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The November Man
Genre Action
 
Review:

Ex-covert operatives are all the rage in Hollywood these days. Just like U2 saved rock 'n roll with their track Beautiful Day, Liam Neeson has almost single-handedly brought back the old guy with action skills revenge thriller with Taken. Although, let's not discount Sylvester Stallone's efforts to reinvigorate aging action men of the '80s with his reboots and The Expendables. For what it's worth, you could argue Steven Seagal and his stunt double team have dedicated his entire career to this format.

We just saw Denzel Washington playing a likable version of Steven Seagal in The Equalizer and now it's Pierce Brosnan's turn to reboot a character from the past in The November Man. Brosnan was one of the better Bonds. He had the schmarminess, the Gillette razor looks and the devil-may-care charms to play up the widely-worshiped gigolo, part-time spy and international man of mystery. While his latest contract prevents him from getting his kit off on camera, he's allowing his estranged apprentice to do all the bedroom stunts.

His latest mission finds him bored of not killing people and pitted against his former pupil and the Russian president-elect. It's pretty standard Jean-Claude Van Damme action thriller terrain and it's mostly entertaining seeing our main man Brosnan pulling off some Bronson revenge intensity. We buy the ex-CIA operative angle thanks to his Bond background and he's still pretty compelling as the weathered one-last-job action star.

He's supported by G.I. Joe: Retaliation's Luke Bracey, who plays an apprentice both on-screen and off. Bracey's not the main attraction, but works as a counterbalance to Brosnan with some heated cat-and-mouse action sequences between the two. Bracey is a handsome guy, but is much colder than The November Man, always playing second fiddle.

Olga Kurylenko brings even more Bond nostalgia to The November Man as a former Bond girl from Quantum of Solace. She seems like the go-to girl for these kinds of movies, after appearing in Hitman too, and her Ukranian heritage helps cover some plot points as she plays the mysterious damsel and arm candy to Brosnan. She's mostly there for her action experience and beauty, but does enough to sell the character.

Director Roger Donaldson worked previously with Brosnan on Dante's Peak, and until late had a fairly strong run of films including: The Bank Job, The Recruit and The World's Fastest Indian. Unfortunately, Seeking Justice with Nic Cage was not as strong and perhaps the Cage bug bit because The November Man doesn't keep step with the better half of his directorial efforts.

The November Man starts with aplomb and it's great to see Pierce Brosnan still kicking, but the film loses itself along the way. We're split between three lead characters, each on their own personal vendetta and this fragments a film you were expecting The November Man to dominate. This probably wouldn't have been as much of an issue if each trail had kept  pace. Unfortunately, an off-key romantic subplot grates and the film doesn't recover.

We're still invested in the versus action, the political conspiracy is relatively engaging and it's always good to see the bad guys getting dominated. Unfortunately, like many of these coming out of retirement films, the hero is borderline invincible, MacGyvering his way out of trouble and treating bad guys like Usain Bolt's hurdles. We've seen it all before and The November Man does it all again.

To its credit, they've tried to get creative with their fights and props and they never stop trying to entertain, but The November Man is going to fade into the glut of superior action thrillers out there. It's good enough to sit through, enjoyable for the twists-and-turns and clocks in above straight-to-video status. Unfortunately, it's too indistinct to register as anything more than a middling, reasonably entertaining action thriller.

The bottom line: Standard

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