It’s 2008 and CIA operative Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) and his young trainee, Danny Mason, (Luke Bracey) are working to prevent the assassination of an American politician overseas. Things go wrong when, against Devereaux’s orders, Mason fires a protective shot and strikes and kills a young boy. When the mission is over, Devereaux turns in his papers. In current day Belgrade we learn through high ranking CIA official John Haney (Bill Smitrovich) that an operative has been exposed and Devereaux is the only person that can be trusted to save them. What happens next, in the blink of an eye, may change the world political scene for decades to come.
A standard by-the-numbers spy thriller, “The November Man” rides squarely on the broad shoulders of Pierce Brosnan. More than a decade removed from his last outing as James Bond, Brosnan still has the talent and skill necessary to portray a man who must rely on his wits (and his ability to use a gun) to survive every day. As his former partner and now adversary, Bracey is equally matched to Brosnan’s talents. When Devereaux must team up with a young woman (Olga Kurylenko), whose identity could alter post- Cold War politics, it is Brosnan’s coolness under pressure that keeps the film from being one giant shoot-em’ up. Besides this performance, the film is basic car chases and gun fights in exotic places, the kind where people chasing each other with silenced hand guns must be an ordinary and everyday occurrence, as no one seems to blink as they happen. Rounding out the cast is Smitrovich, whose performance is solid, and Will Patton, apparently still playing the character he played opposite Kevin Costner in “No Way Out” almost a quarter century ago.
The direction by screen veteran Roger Donaldson (“Dante’s Peak”) is strong but, like the plot, very formulaic: gun fight, car chase, take a break and repeat. Only towards the end, when past roles are revealed, does the film pick up energy. By then the film is on auto-pilot and on its way to a pre-determined finale.