The November Man (2014)

(Video on Demand, December 2014)  Perhaps the most interesting thing about this average euro-spy thriller is how it can be seen as an attempt by Pierce Brosnan to create a franchise for himself.  Given that Brosnan has purchased the rights to an entire series of espionage thriller novels, has produced the film and stars in it, this is no mere catty supposition as much as it’s clear-headed analysis.  Brosnan, as an ex-Bond, knows the advantages of having his own franchise and if he’s willing to put his money on the table –who can blame him?  Of course, it would be best if he was able to deliver a good movie.  While The November Man isn’t actually bad, it’s almost admirably average.  Blending an intensely familiar blend of elements (somber east-European political machinations, past massacres being covered up, rogue superiors, kidnapped family members, protégé-turned-enemy, and so on…) in a film put together in a competent but mechanical fashion.  Fortunately, The November Man is average in a genre that can be satisfying even when it’s mediocre: I hadn’t seen a spy thriller in some time and was almost hungering for an example, any example in the genre.  So my expectations were met, and I wasn’t asking for much more than that.  This being said, The November Man has problems.  As an adaptation of a latter novel in the series, it solicits emotional depth from the viewers (oh no!  The other of his child has been killed!  Oh no, his daughter has been kidnapped!) that it hasn’t had the time to earn in a few minutes.  The stakes are relatively low, the characters and dialogues are fairly dull –basically, while the film meets expectations, there’s nothing here that surpasses them.  The November Man is the very definition of a pleasant but instantly forgettable genre piece, good enough for an evening but almost entirely forgotten the next morning.

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