When I have children one day, and they feel they have to cheat off of other kids’ tests, my advice to them will always be this: If you’re gonna cheat, make sure it’s off the smart kid. If they need further proof, they can suffer through “The November Man”.
This is a movie that decided to cheat on every answer on the generic thriller test, but did it off the kid named Cletus who spells it “Kl4ts”. By that I mean it steals every cliché in the book, but does it so obviously and with such little grace or attempt to create its own mark that it becomes nothing but an ugly, blurry, charmless disaster.
Pierce Brosnan stars as Peter Devereaux a.k.a The November Man and is the only reason this movie got a theatrical release. They don’t reference him by that moniker until much later in the film accompanied by the explanation “because when you pass through, nothing’s left standing” (because we all know November is apocalypse month).
It’s easy to see why they make that claim. As a spy (or assassin? Or hitman?) he operates with no grace, tact or even casual charm. He barrels through like an ape scenes blasting everybody and causing meaningless explosions, all while being an insufferable prick.
After the most rushed “5 years later” plot point in film history, his job is to find this girl who will lead him to this other girl who will lead him to the evil Russian—who’s evil just for being Russian—all while inciting a grudge match with his “best friend” for killing his lover who was also a spy who was caught because she left a cupboard open. In short these are all very stupid, vapid, angry people galloping like legless horses for reasons we’ve seen done in other terrible movies that are somehow better than this one. I don’t know who let these people pass the spy exam, but I’m guessing it was Kl4ts.
Director Roger Donaldson appears to be a man who works for one of two reasons: 1) He has a clear, unique approach to the formula (“No Way Out”) or 2) He has no way to make an awful script work but needs a stiff paycheck (“Cocktail”). His action scenes haven’t a visceral bone in their body and work on a “shoot this guy, then that guy, now run” basis.
What more can I say than that this is an action movie meant to be slept through. There is no character exposition, no emotional bearing in any one or thing, no style, no charm, no clear thought process behind anything, and worse of all, no reason to exist. This is a movie for the old “they don’t make movies like this anymore, what with these young bucks with their shaved chests and their gadgetrons” crowd. They don’t because the people creating them realized they were doing something horribly wrong long ago.