With The November Man, you quickly get the sense that you're watching an uncredited Bourne sequel, with a few important improvements: An R rating, no shaky cam, and very few government functionaries spouting geopolitical buzzwords in front of monitors. Those are good improvements! It stars Pierce Brosnan doing sex stuff and spy stuff (an espionage a trois, say) in a number of picturesque European locales (sure, why not?), and it's impossible to overstate how much better an R-rated version of Bourne or James Bond is: These movies are utilitarian, scratching an itch more than creating art. It's already a kind of porn. And who wants to watch sanitized porn?
At first, November Man's subtle-yet-important tweaks to the established formula work perfectly—until about 40 minutes in, when you can all but hear the sound of the screenwriter's check clearing. Then it devolves from "Our involvement in this Chechen 9/11 scheme could be a political albatross!" to "Let her go!" and "If you hurt her I'll kill you!" The smart political thriller basically becomes a John Cena movie, and even the editor seems to be stretching: One bad guy scrutinizes about 17 separate pictures of Brosnan with a little girl before reaching the epiphany that—dunt dunnn—Brosnan's character has a daughter.
The main plot focuses on a mentor/protégé conflict between a rogue CIA agent (Brosnan) and an agency soldier (Luke Bracey). Their dynamic is compelling at first, but by the end we're supposed to believe they're willing to betray everything they've worked for to salvage their bro-mance (admittedly, there are great eyebrows all around). Then there's a super-creepy scene of Olga Kurylenko posing as a prostitute to catch the guy who raped her, and some of the most awkward running since Angelina Jolie in Salt.
November Man had potential. But you're better off skipping the movie and waiting for the Olga Kurylenko-running supercut—it's refreshing to know someone so beautiful can be such a complete spaz. The November Man dir. Roger Donaldson