There seem to be four big-screen modes for Pierce Brosnan: James Bond, magnetic sly fox (The Thomas Crown Affair, The Matador), way out-of-his-depths leading man (Mamma Mia!), and action-thriller paycheck-coaster. The November Man, which reunites Brosnan with his Dante’s Peak director, Roger Donaldson, falls squarely but surely in the last category.
Brosnan plays boozehound and ex-CIA agent Peter Devereaux, who is coaxed out of retirement to stop a conspiracy involving a war criminal (Lazar Ristovski). He’s also asked to protect a relief worker (Olga Kurylenko, a former Bond girl of the Daniel Craig era) who holds more secrets than anyone could guess—except the audience, that is—while ducking a past protege (the stiff-as-a-board Luke Bracey) who chases him in some rather meh cat-and-mouse power play. (There’s even an actual cat that makes some cameo appearances.)
The movie, based on Bill Granger’s popular spy novel series, could easily have been made in Brosnan’s post-Remington Steele days, with its fondness for familiar ’80s action tropes like smashed BMWs and heavy arterial spray. Once in a while, there’s a certain drive-in/double feature junkiness that elicits a chuckle or two (especially any scene with an oily officioso played by the growling Bill Smitrovich, the only performer who seems to be having any fun). But the utter lack of originality eventually sinks the movie, and the climax has more howlers than a wolf convention. The November Man may be an August release, but its silliness would make it a non-event any month of the year. C