“The November Man”
Very Good (2.5 stars)
Rated R for rape, profanity, sexuality, nudity, graphic violence and brief drug use
In English and Russian with subtitles
Running time: 108 minutes
Distributor: Relativity Media
Director Roger Donaldson is probably most closely associated with “No Way Out,” one of the best espionage thrillers ever made. The accomplished Australian revisits the genre with “The November Man,” though this picture pales in comparison to his ingenious, 1987 classic.
Nevertheless, Roger has crafted another labyrinthine, cat-and-mouse caper which miraculously manages to keep you on the edge of your seat despite an often-incoherent plotline, slapdash action sequences, and an inscrutable cast of characters with difficult to discern motivations. Overall, the adventure amounts to a dizzying head-scratcher which takes you on one helluva roller coaster ride, even if it might take a scorecard to keep the profusion of players straight.
Based on the Bill Granger best seller “There Are No Spies,” the movie stars Pierce Brosnan in the title role as Peter Devereaux, an ex-CIA Agent once code named “The November Man.” While he retired to Switzerland five years ago, it doesn’t take much to coax him out of the rocking chair to help extract Mira, (Nina Mrdja), a Russian double agent ready to come in out of the proverbial cold.
After all, they share a secret past which produced Lucy (Tara Jevrosimovic), a love child he misses terribly. However, the prospects of a father-daughter reunion are reduced significantly when Mira is shot in the head by a team of assassins led by David Mason (Luke Bracey), Peter’s former protégé in the CIA. What’s up with that? Did the Agency really want Mira dead? Or did David go rogue? These are the questions left unanswered as Peter accepts another dangerous assignment, namely, the exfiltration from Moscow of Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko).
Alice is a pivotal witness for the prosecution set to testify in front of a war crimes tribunal about all the atrocities committed in Chechnya by Arkady Federov (Lazar Ristovski). Trouble is Federov is Russia’s ruthless president-elect and isn’t about to let some social worker abort his rendezvous with destiny.
So, it’s not long after making Alice’s acquaintance that Peter realizes she has no shortage of angry adversaries, both Soviet, such as Federov’s acrobatic henchwoman (Amila Terzimehic), and American, like the CIA mole giving David his marching orders. Regardless, the peripatetic pair proceed to leave a messy trail of bloody bodies behind as they pick up long-lost Lucy before making a daring escape to the West.