The November Man
While this film will likely soon be forgotten, wait until you see Ms. Kurylenko hunted by a vicious female assassin. The only thing that survives her prey is a nice obituary.
Director Roger Donaldson’s The November Man is a poor man’s knockoff of the James Bond series. Having previously appeared as Mr. Bond in Die Another Day (2002); The World is Not Enough (1999); Tomorrow Never Dies (1997); and Golden Eye (1995), Pierce Brosnan’s crafty, debonair CIA hitman could have easily been called 009.
Mr. Donaldson has always been a director who is always just a bit shy of dealing with a full deck. Though The Bank Job (2008) was highly underrated, his other films ranging from The Bounty (1984); No Way Out (1987); The Getaway (1994) and Dante’s Peak (1997) are universally greeted with the comment, “Not bad, but I’ve seen better.”
Here, Mr. Brosnan plays Devereaux, an aging CIA retiree who is living with his 12-year old daughter in Switzerland. The spy agency needs him back, as there is a female agent in Moscow who needs an escort to freedom.
In the process, bad things happen to everyone, and Brosnan becomes embroiled in Russian politics while the CIA considers him to be a rogue. There is a lot of killing that takes place in this movie from beginning to end, yet you always know that James Bond never dies. You can wound him, you can beat him, but you can’t kill him.
The central plot of the film concerns a Russian presidential candidate who is suspected of building his power while orchestrating the Chechen Civil War. Thousands died in that nightmarish encounter, and many women who survived were sexually abused.
What gives this film some punch is the performance of Olga Kurylenko. She plays Alice, a survivor of Chechnya who the Russians want to kill and the Americans want to exploit. She is a stunningly attractive, talented actress, and you really should find the time to watch her in Hit Man (2007), Quantum of Solace (2008) and Seven Psychopaths (2012).
In addition, Luke Bracey plays Mason, a young CIA operative who was taught everything he knows years earlier by Brosnan. Now on opposite sides, how can anyone possibly follow orders and kill a man who you consider to be your surrogate father?
Finally, you have to keep an eye out for Amilia Terzimehic, here playing a Russian hit woman in a role historically dominated by men. She is captivating, shown exercising at one point where she is able to do the splits while then elevating one leg over her head. A striking Eastern European woman, she constantly appears with her hair tied straight back, accentuating her hawk-like nose as she quietly moves in for the kill. We need to see more of her.
Not to be overlooked is the cinematography, most of which takes place in an around Belgrade. Say what you want about Mr. Donaldson’s films, but he’s smart enough to know that if your film takes place in Eastern Europe, then film it in Eastern Europe.