One of the simple pleasures of summer is being able to sit on a beach somewhere and blast your way through a good, trashy spy novel.
With summer winding down, “The November Man” is here to give you that cinematic equivalent of a beach read; and the result is a competent, slightly ridiculous, fairly entertaining spy flick.
What this movie has going for it the most is Pierce Brosnan, a man who knows a thing or two about silly spy movies and who still has the chops to deliver the goods.
Here, Brosnan plays Peter Devereaux, a retired CIA agent who thinks he’s out until they pull … him … back … in!
Approached by his former handler (veteran character actor Bill Smitrovich), Devereaux is sent to Belgrade to bring in a double agent who has some serious dirt on the new Russian president-elect (Lazar Ristovski).
Of course, things go horribly wrong and Devereaux finds himself on the run with a foxy young social worker (Olga Kurylenko) he must try to protect.
Devereaux is essentially on his own as even his old boss (Will Patton) and former protege; Mason (Luke Bracey) are out to kill him.
The relationship between Devereaux and Mason is undoubtedly the weakest part of the movie. It’s a hoot to watch them play spy vs. spy all over the city, but their motivations toward each other are super vague, which makes their actions in regard to the other questionable at best.
It also doesn’t help Bracey isn’t much of an actor, as Brosnan and Co. run circles around him.
But all of the thrilling trappings of the genre are here: car chases, international intrigue, fistfights, back-lit sexual encounters, and double-crosses.
Veteran director Roger Donaldson (who also directed Brosnan in “Dante’s Peak”) handles this movie like a pro and while he’s not exactly reinventing the wheel, he does give the movie a gritty kinetic energy that rumbles all around the streets of Belgrade.
“The November Man” has its share of problems, but Brosnan totally nails the mix of world-weary and action-junkie that makes his character fun to watch even as the plot is wildly careening around hairpin curves of logic.
There’s not a whole lot here for the casual moviegoer to get excited about, but for genre fans who love dodging assassins, unraveling mysteries of deceit, and know you should never get emotionally involved with your assets, “The November Man” is a breezy escape.
And the best part is you won’t have to worry about getting all the sand out of your shorts when it’s over.
“The November Man” is rated R for strong violence, including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity, and brief drug use.