There is a bit of a trend happening just now in the movies. We are seeing the return of the aging action star. With the success of The Expendables franchise where a large number of Eighties action heroes (and villains) came back to prominence other studios noted the opportunity to resurrect other actors careers and make some money in the progress. The latest sixty something to take on this type of role is Pierce Brosnan in The November Man.
Brosnan stars as Devereaux, an experienced CIA operative. While training up Mason (Luke Bracey) they take part in an operation that doesn’t end particularly well. This pushes Devereaux into retirement. Five years later he is asked by his old boss to take part in an agent extraction operation in Moscow. Information has been revealed regarding the front runner for the Russian presidency which could be of great value to the CIA. The extraction is a disaster with Deveraux pitted against Mason who is now a full field agent. Deveraux is now a target for the CIA and has to work out ta way to get himself out of the situation he finds himself in.
With a varied filmography is seems quite fitting that Pierce Brosnan takes on a role such as this. Best known for his four outing as James Bond but has had a varied range of roles in front of the camera. He is still athletic enough to be convincing in the role of an aging CIA operative. Sure he doesn’t do any of the high kicking martial arts stuff, but he was never about that anyway. Deveraux is all about using his skills and his intelligence. For him, it is all about preparation and adapting as a situation unfolds rather than just using a weapon to solve a problem.
The film addresses the theme of family. For an agent there is no family as they are something that can be used against them. There can be no attachments. This is drummed into the young Mason at the start of the film and as the story unfolds we see the consequences of neither of them following the advice.
The November Man gives you exactly what you expect in this type of film and is never the poorer for it. The story is one that has been seen countless times on the screen at one time or another so don’t expect originality and surprises. The film zips along at a fast pace that keeps you interested at all times. Director Roger Donaldson has a good track record with action films and brings all his skill to this film in an effort to raise it above an average film. The action scenes are well done which avoid the frenetic cuts of the Bourne movies. It is a wise choice as it just wouldn’t work here. Helping these scenes is the use of excellent and varied locations varying from crowded markets to chases sequences through back alleyways.
The main support comes from Olga Kurylenko in the part of Alice, a social worker who is caught in the drama with her links to a missing girl. She is more than a plot device and is more than a match for Brosnan on screen. She makes a strong screen presence and is given a fair amount of screen time to develop her character. Luke Bracey is the fledgling agent Mason. He is a comparative unknown to me and was impressive in his supporting role apart from his tendency to look mean and moody for the sake of it at some points. He will be propelled to the big leagues soon as he is currently filming the part of Johnny Utah in the much troubled Point Break remake.
Overall, a nuts and bots action film that really benefits from good, tight direction and charismatic lead actors. Recommended.