The ex-James Bond’s CIA agent act keeps you engaged in this espionage thriller
Based on Bill Granger’s novel, There Are No Spies, director Roger Donaldson’s The November Man is a well-made espionage thriller, which consists of every clichéd tropes of the genre – The CIA Agents, Russian counterparts, assassins, victims, Russian roulette, car chases and shoot-outs. In fact, it is a crime story sans any geopolitical threats, where the plot and premise are eerily similar to Rani Mukerji’s last week released Hindi film Mardaani.
The film opens in Montenegro in 2008, where an overzealous effort to thwart an assassination results in a child’s death. The CIA agent, Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) reprimands his trainee, David Mason (Luke Bracey), for disobeying orders.
Five years later in Lassanne, Switzerland, Devereaux, who is now leading a quiet life, is lured out of his retirement for a mission of a personal nature. He is supposed to rescue Natalia (Mediha Musliovic), a woman he knows from a dangerous situation in Moscow. During the rescue operation he ends up face to face with Mason after Natalia gets killed, only to realise that the plot is not as simple as it seems. It’s more complicated and nefarious.
Taking the cue from Natalia’s intelligence, he searches for a missing woman Mira Filipova, who is apparently aware of a secret that could spoil the chances of Arkady Federov (Lazar Ristovski), the high profile Russian presidential contender. Soon Devereaux realises the base of the conspiracy involves war refugees sold into sex trafficking. His search leads him to social worker Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko) in Belgrade, Serbia who used to see the missing person.
Meanwhile, to prove a point to his superiors, Mason chases Devereaux. On the other hand, a Russian assassin Alexa (Amila Terzimehic) is trailing Alice. While playing cat and mouse their paths cross at various junctions. The salt-n-pepper Brosnan with his swagger and self-reliant demeanour is apt as Devereaux. He is fittingly described in the film as male, old with the skills. He is competently supported by Bracey as Mason. Their mentor-protégé bond lingers on the lines of a father-son connection.
Overall, the women are used as victims or scapegoats in the plot. Kurylenko excels. She effectively portrays the pathos of her gruesome back-story where as Terzimehic as the flexible muscle-stretching assassin is intimidating, yet, comical in her demeanour.
The plot with a couple of loopholes is an entwined web that starts off on a complicated note. While jumping locations and with unclear motives of its characters, the story is confusing and difficult to follow initially. But by the second-half, the narration settles. As the film nears end one wonders why the film is being called The November Man and then a hurriedly packed two-sentence explanation wraps that up too, ridiculously.
With high-octane action set pieces and fine production designs by Kevin Kavanaugh, cinematographer Romain Lacourbas’ visuals are arresting. In general, the film holds your attention to the last frame and is worth a watch this weekend.