The November Man follows retired CIA agent Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) as he comes out of retirement at the request of his former CIA partner, John Hanley (Bill Smitrovich), in order to safely escort his former lover and also CIA agent, Natalia Ulanova (Mediha Musliovic) out of Moscow. Ulanova is a critical asset to the agency as she knows critical intel about Russian President Arkady Federov (Lazar Ristovski). The extraction operation goes wrong, and a kill order is put out for Devereaux, who must use his wits and exceptional combat skills to evade both the CIA and the Russians, whilst uncovering a conspiracy between the Russian government and the CIA dating back to the second Chechen War.
Although I tried to explain the plot as clearly as possible, to be honest, I was very confused throughout this entire film. This confusion was not an interesting type of confusion, such as in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, where the viewer has to piece together the mystery as the MI6 agents do. In The November Man, supposedly important characters disappear for no reason, and certain characters almost teleport from one location to another without explanation. A certain degree of confusion and mystery is essential in any good espionage movie, but this movie crosses the line into nonsensical. The only “big twist” that the movie has is very predictable and poorly handled, and will probably leave audience members more confused than ever. Perhaps my biggest issue with this film is its Russia heavy storyline. It has been over three decades since the worst periods of the Cold War, and I feel that modern espionage movies should focus on new countries, such as Japan, China or North Korea. The USA versus Russia espionage movie has long run its course, and this premise should be retired.
Pierce Brosnan does a perfectly mediocre job as Peter Devereaux. Brosnan tries to use his years as James Bond to inform his role as Peter Devereaux. However, Peter Devereaux simply lacks all the characteristics that make Bond appealing as a character. Devereaux is an old bitter man, who seems to love no one, and pretty much hates everything. While Bond has a similar lack of emotion, at least Bond is utterly faithful to England and has lots of charm. Devereaux honestly comes off as more of a jerk than anything else.
What frustrated me the most was that this movie had lots of potential. Throughout the course of the film, Devereaux is pursued by a CIA assassin, Peter Mason (Luke Bracey), who was his former protégé. In the trailers, it is implied that their relationship would be at the forefront of the movie. In my opinion, a movie about a former CIA agent being pursued by his former protégé would be a compelling and interesting movie. Sadly, however, this relationship is completely buried by a bunch of Russian Cold War politics in the movie, thus destroying the one thing that this movie had going for it. Don’t bother watching this movie. Watch Skyfall, or the Bourne Identity.