This image released by Relativity Media shows Pierce Brosnan in a scene from the film, "The November Man." (AP Photo/Relativity Media, Aleksandar Letic)

This image released by Relativity Media shows Pierce Brosnan in a scene from the film, "The November Man." (AP Photo/Relativity Media, Aleksandar Letic)

Reeling it in: Film leaves reviewer wondering what else is on

“The November Man”

Relativity Media

1 hour, 48 minutes

Pierce Brosnan is one of those actors that everybody likes but nobody really loves. You’ll find some people passionate about his particular take on James Bond or perhaps a big “Remington Steele” fan here and there, but for the most part Brosnan doesn’t really inspire a huge fan-base.

The upshot of this is that using him as a leading man pretty much ensures that you’ll get people out to the theater as long as there’s not much else on. That fact — that there’s not much else on — is the only thing that can account for the even moderate success of this week’s tedious throw-back spy thriller, “The November Man” — moderate being the operative word. People are so bored with the new round of flicks that “Guardians of the Galaxy” has topped the box office for the fourth weekend in a row. That’s a month at number one and, while “Guardians” is a lot of fun, it’s certainly not some kind of cinematic revelation.

The trailer for “The November Man” looked dull, but you have to figure that if there’s anything Brosnan is good at, it’s playing the spy. Unfortunately, it seems as though the actor is as bored with playing the role as we are of watching him. Here he plays Peter Devereaux, veteran CIA operative and certified badass. After an op-gone-wrong (isn’t that always the way?) Devereaux retires, leaving Mason, his agent-in-training, to pick up the pieces without his mentor.

The two are destined to meet again, however, when our hero is pulled back into the life five years later. Devereaux is sent in to rescue a fellow agent and instead comes face to face with Mason, whose assignment is to kill said agent. What?! Is someone in the agency running a double-cross? Is someone trying to clean the slate, getting rid of old agents? And what about that mysterious Serbian woman and the heir to the Russian presidency? Could there be a shady conspiracy brewing that will pit two master assassins against each other, one trying to avenge his love and find the truth and the other trying to do his job and prove something to his old master? Could it be that we’ve seen everything in this film in a dozen better movies? Yes.

I was checked out of “The November Man” within the first few lines of cliché dialogue, and things really don’t ever pick up. Brosnan is supposed to be a man on the edge, but there’s no edginess about him. He’s better at playing smooth. Here, the smooth turns to a weary listlessness which I think is supposed to be Brosnan’s version of menacing. I found it impossible to care about the character, mostly because it felt as though Brosnan didn’t care. The rest of the cast is equally tiresome with no one feeling particularly invested in the production. I’m a little surprised, actually, that “The November Man” got a wide-screen release at all. The production values, the script, even the themes feel 20 years old.

Sure, there’s some passable action, and even a surprise or two. There is a moment, a confrontation between Devereaux and Mason involving Mason’s new girlfriend, where Brosnan even comes alive for a second, but the scene is weirdly out of character and the whole episode is abruptly dropped. Beyond that it’s the same old pseudo-complicated plot you’ve seen before where it’s difficult to keep up with the tiny plot details, but impossible not to guess the major ones.

I don’t know if this film was an effort to build a new franchise for the aging Brosnan, but I hope the powers that be rethink that decision. “The November Man” is dull, glum and unengaging and though his star-power is somewhat waned, Pierce Brosnan deserves a better retirement than this.

Grade: D+

“The November Man” is rated R for language, violence, completely gratuitous nudity and sexual situations.

 

Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

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