Friday, September 5, 2014

[Review] The November Man

You can't watch The November Man without thinking you've seen it before. It never really differentiates itself from other recent Hollywood spy/action thrillers. Seriously, it feels as though this film could've been made 8 years ago and just released this past weekend, and you wouldn't even know it. That said, you're never really mad for seeing it again. It's clich├ęd, but entertaining. Flawed, but serviceable. And Pierce Brosnan & Olga Kurylenko are great screen presences.

Brosnan plays Peter Devereaux, a retired CIA agent who gets willed back into a webbed case involving hitmen & hitwomen, a Russian war criminal turned political figure, computer hackers, and moles. There's a good portion of the story where it's hard to figure out what the hell is going on - not because of the suspense and mystery, but because the plotting is inconceivably convoluted. However, things eventually straighten out. It gets particularly interesting when Alice (Kurylenko), a valuable witness with a foggy past, enters the picture.

The twisty story unfolds with some brutal violence and plenty of scenes of people kicking the shit out of each other in stylish ways. The film does its job by getting the juices flowing and constantly escalating the intensity. The best compliment that I can give this is that: despite the fact that everything is expected--it's never dull. Devereaux walks away with his back to an explosion without a single shred of self-awareness.

There's a relationship that's dressed as a complex love & hate father/son dynamic between Devereaux and his former protege (played by Luke Bracey). But aside from some thin expository backstory, the relationship isn't developed enough to make us care whether these two save each other or kill each other. The film even has some technical falters, from its awkward casting of secondary characters to the questionable continuity leaps (and I'm not talking about which direction a character's hair strand is pointing after a cut). Still, the sheer watchability makes a lot of the flaws easy to forgive, and if you catch this on TV during a rainy afternoon, you'll probably be okay with it.


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