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November Man, The

108 minutes
action, thriller

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This entry created 9 October 2023. Last revised on 9 October 2023.

436 hits since 9 Oct 2023
©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
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November Man, The

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star no star no star (8.00)

The late Bill Granger wrote The November Man series of spy novels in the 1980s, set during the Cold War. Pierce Brosnan acquired the rights, and chose to make this movie based on the seventh novel – in which a retired spy is called back to duty, much like Brosnan was returning to the genre after 'retiring' as James Bond. The setting has been updated from the Cold War to a contemporary setting.

The movie begins with a flashback, showing Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) training a new spy, Mason (Luke Bracey). Mason disobeys orders, resulting in the death of a bystander.

Flash forward a few years, and Devereaux, now retired, is meeting with an old CIA colleague, Hanley (Bill Smitrovich). An assassin is on the loose, and a spy has key information – but they will only divulge it to someone they know – Devereaux. And so he takes on one last job…

The convoluted plot soon includes the president-elect of the Russian Federation, human trafficking, an assassin, the Second Chechen War, a journalist, a migrant center, a strip club, and someone at the CIA playing their own game! Which leads to Mason being ordered to kill Devereaux.

An interesting feature of this movie is that, as the movie stresses the moral ambiguity of the spy business, it's not clear at first if anyone is the 'good guy'. Key information about character motivation is revealed late in the movie. There are a lot of twists, and even a little humor. So you might want to watch the movie twice to get everything.

The cast is solid. Pierce Brosnan is good as the ruthless, no-nonsense Devereaux; Luke Bracey is good as the younger spy; 'Bond Girl' Olga Kurylenko is surprisingly good as a refugee coordinator suspected of knowing something; plus many good actors in minor roles, many of whom are Serbian (the film was made in Belgrade).

This movie was one of the first to use drones with cameras, allowing some car chase shots in a crowded city that otherwise would have been impossible. There's even a drone shot of another drone! (Drones were large in 2014.)

You can argue whether the movie is an action picture, or a thriller/psychological film with a lot of action. Lots of people getting shot, punched, or otherwise injured, but handled without a lot of gore. Probably not suitable for younger viewers, also considering brief nudity (at a strip club) and a love scene that barely qualifies as soft-porn.

Can you wargame it? While there is a lot of action, nothing comes to mind that would directly inspire a scenario.

This is a good movie. Entertaining while trying to make you think about the morality of the spy game, but it does require you to pay attention.