Pierce Brosnan is no stranger to playing spies after having played the most famous of them, James Bond, for four films from 1995 to 2002. Now 12 years later, he finds himself in similar territory with “The November Man,” a film based off of a series of books by Bill Granger. Peter Devereaux (Brosnan) is an ex-CIA agent who has been off the grid since his partner, Mason (Luke Bracey), made a terrible mistake during a mission of theirs in Berlin. In present day, a Russian, Federov (Lazar Ristovski), is lining himself up to become the next president, but in the meantime, he is having a hired assassin eliminate people from his past so that his dirty laundry will never become public. Peter is brought back in to help extract an old acquaintance of his, Natalia (Mediha Musliovic), who has an important name from Federov’s past that could derail his entire shot at the presidency. Sadly she is killed in the attempt, but not before giving Peter the name Mira Filipova, which leads him to Alice (Olga Kurylenko), a woman who helped Mira several years ago. Peter must race to put together Federov’s past while also confronting his old partner, who set off a chain of events during the Natalia mission that has caused him to attempt to hunt Peter down.
It’s great to see Pierce Brosnan back in the spy game after so many years as it’s the kind of role that he slips into rather well. The problem is, after seeing “The November Man,” you’ll wish that his return to such a role had been for something much better than this. For the most part, this is a very bland take on a spy thriller that fails to engage the viewer with its convoluted and muddled plot. It feels as though it wants to be something along the lines of Clancy or Ludlum, but only manages to become a pale imitation thanks to uninteresting characters and a plethora of clichés. However, perhaps its worst offense is that it’s simply dull, which is not something you tend to associate with films of this type. Think back on the Bond, Ryan, and Bourne films and you tend to remember exciting plots and intriguing characters, with a good amount of action thrown in for balance. The only element here that “The November Man” even comes close to having is the third, but even there the filmmakers continually fall back on repetitive shootouts in an attempt to fill the requirement. The whole thing just comes off as a very uninspired project, one that will merely make you want to go back and revisit the great spies of years past to see how it’s really done.
“The November Man” arrives on Blu-ray in a 2.40:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of above-average quality. This is a very sharp and clear picture that doesn’t present any trace of blurriness throughout the presentation. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is top-notch as well, making sure you hear every bit of dialogue and action loud and clear. Overall, there’s not much to say except that the film has been given outstanding treatment that gives you the best experience possible.
Commentary by Director Roger Donaldson, Pierce Brosnan, and Producer Beau St. Clair: An interesting commentary that has these three dishing about how the film came together and what attracted them to it.
The Making of The November Man: A decent ten-minute look behind the scenes at the making of the film. It’s not particularly in-depth, but it does have some informative tidbits.
Bringing Belgrade to the Big Screen: A rather pointless look at filming in Belgrade. There’s nothing to be learned here so it’s easily skippable.
Brosnan is Back!: Another pointless featurette that merely has the cast and crew saying how great Pierce Brosnan is. It’s easily skippable as well.
“The November Man” is a second-rate espionage thriller that desperately wants to be in the same tier as Jason Bourne and Jack Ryan, but thanks to dull characters and an unengaging plot, it merely ends up being a flat and forgettable spy outing. In their desperation to emulate the far more successful characters of the genre, the screenwriters have forgotten to include the elements that make such a film work, and because of that, we’re left with nothing but an imitation that lacks an identity of its own.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
Recent Blu-ray/DVD releases: 22 Jump Street, Jersey Boys, Dolls, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Extended Edition), Maleficent, Hercules (2014), Kingdom of Heaven: Ultimate Edition, Edge of Tomorrow, Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition, Roger & Me, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Once Upon a Time in America: Extended Director’s Cut, Ghost in the Shell, The Audrey Hepburn Collection, Halloween: The Complete Collection
Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.