Director: Roger Donaldson
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko
Rating: ** stars
And there you thought it was going all nice and simple with a brutal — what else? — Russian general-turned-politician with a rough taste — what else? — in the ladies. There was Langley, but no nuclear bombs and no threats to the world. There was the CIA agent who asked few questions as he blasted his way through the streets of Belgrade for problems arising out of Moscow, but there was also the grizzly, wrinkly, weary Brosnan looking as if he knew why all roads still lead to Russia, if not Russia House.
But no, things can’t be that simple in a summer thriller competing with blockbusters with beefier action stars, can they? Suffice it to say the Russian and the ladies (including a fetching Kurylenko) are only a sub-, sub-, sub-plot in a large and loose plot to control the Kremlin. Make that larger and looser, for even that minor plot is only one of the one many strands The November Man is juggling to keep the story convoluted enough for everyone to go away impressed — Did we miss something, for example, when Brosnan’s Peter Devereaux slashed an innocent young woman for some reason?
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Well, you will never know, for the last time we see that scarred young lady is when she is being wheeled into hospital. She had the misfortune of having a one-night stand with the younger Agent, Mason (Bracey), with whom Peter shares a kind-of father-son relationship for having trained him. Despite this background, when Peter proves a handful for the CIA, it is Mason they send after him — repeatedly.
Kurylenko is in the picture as a social worker with links to a woman who knows the truth about the dirty Russian general, who could be the new president of the country. Everyone wants to get that woman hence, and so they are all after Kurylenko’s Alice. That everyone includes the general’s pet assassin, a long-braided, all-straight-angles and long-leg-stretches woman who transports an astonishing number of guns through airport security.
Having lost the love of his life in an operation involving the Russian general, Peter (Brosnan as Bond, without the humour) takes Alice under his wings, though his motives in this dirty mess are far from clear. Thrashing around for closure, a CIA operative does throw in the Middle East though. As in, “Now that’s a war that makes sense to me.”
Peter Devereaux is a character created by Bill Granger, and The November Man the seventh in his list of stories featuring him. Chances are, you won’t see the others.