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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The November Man (Blu-ray)
The November Man (Blu-ray)
20th Century Fox // R // November 25, 2014 // Region A
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kyle Mills | posted November 27, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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The November Man has rough history. Back in 2005, after Pierce Brosnan, the leading man, officially stepped down from his days as 007 James Bond, announced that he wanted to start his own franchise in the world of espionage, only this time he wanted to do it how he wanted to approach Bond, dark and gritty. Thus he along with his company, Irish Dreamtime (The Thomas Crown Affair, The Matador, Evelyn) optioned Bill Granger's seventh of his thirteen book spy thriller franchise, There Are No Spies, which revolves around the life of code name "November", the series is a more grounded and gritty take on the spy genre. The film remained in development hell until 2013 where it finally went into production, but after all this time, was the final product worth it?

The film starts out in 2008, introducing us to CIA agent Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan), code named "The November Man", along with his trainee, David Mason (Luke Bracey), CIA agents whom have been dispatched to stop an attempt on the life of a US Ambassador in Montenegro after the CIA catches wind of it. Devereaux decides to take the place of the Ambassador in hopes that it will lead the would be assassin out into the open so Mason, whom is hidden nearby with a sniper rifle, can take a shot. The assassin spots Devereaux and begins to make a move toward him, Mason is getting an itchy trigger finger, fearing for his mentor's life, while Devereaux tells him not to shoot due to the crowded area. Mason disobeys orders and puts the assassin down with a precise shot to the head, which goes through and through, killing a small child that was beside him. Devereaux is traumatized by the event, drops Mason as his pupil/friend, and retires from the agency.

Flash forward over 5 years. We see that Devereaux has spent the last five years of his life enjoying the peace and quiet in Switzerland, running a coffee shop. Sadly, Devereaux's new life is glossed over, as soon as we see what he's up to, he gets a visit from his former boss, John Hanley (Bill Smitrovich.) Haley is here to recruit Devereaux for one final mission, although he's understandably hesitant. Hanley explains to him the mission is to extract a deep undercover CIA operative from Russia, Natalia Ulanova (Mediha Musliovic), Peter's former lover, who has been posing as the aide of presidential candidate and former Russian Army General Arkady Fedorov (Lazar Ristovski) and knows the name of a witness who can tie Fedorov to war crimes. She fears for her life, as Arkady Fedorov's personal assassin Alexa, has been assigned the task to murder all of Fedorov's former associates who have knowledge of his past crimes. Hanley tells him she will only come in with Peter, so his mission is to get her and bring her in. Devereaux accepts the mission.

Unbeknownst to Devereaux, Mason, now a higher up in the CIA, and his own team have also been dispatched to extract Natalia, with CIA station chief Perry Weinstein (the always excellent, Will Patton) in charge of the operation. Mason's team is likewise unaware of Hanley's actions. Soon Natalia's cover is blown and she's pursued through the streets of Moscow until Peter arrives to kill the pursuing agents and rescue her, much to her surprise to see him there. Weinstein, believing Natalia's been captured by the Russians, gives the green light for Mason and his team to kill her, which he does with a single shot from his sniper rifle from a nearby roof of a parking garage. Before Natalia dies in his arms, she hands Peter a cell phone which contains the incriminating photos of Federov, and tells him the name "Mira Filipova", leading him to Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko), a refugee case worker whom is the only one with known ties to Mira.

Weinstein, fearing Devereaux's wrath for killing one of the only people he's ever cared about, orders Mason to put him down as not stopping him would mean Devereaux leaving a trail of bodies behind him until he finds the man responsible. Devereaux soon finds himself in a cat and mouse game of life or death with his old friend, meanwhile growing suspicions of a mole within the agency stating they actually helped Federov cover up his war crimes begin to run rampant, Devereaux must try to evade Mason, find the mole, find Mira, and put an end to Federov's reign.

- Positives:

+ Excellent performance from Brosnan. Admit it, the only reason you're watching this is because it's Pierce Brosnan, and it's Pierce Brosnan in a James Bond-esque role. Well I have good news for fans of Pierce, The November Man is proof that he hasn't lost a step since his Bond days. His return to the spy genre is a fitting one, as the role of Devereaux fits Brosnan like a glove. While many Bond comparisons can (and have) be made between Bond and Devereaux, the roles can't be further apart. Brosnan's Bond was heavy on puns and humor, lacked depth, and only had the occasional dose of seriousness thrown in, Devereaux however is hard edged, with no humor, though sometimes vulnerable due to his haunting past, and Brosnan absolutely nails the role.

+ A fun film from start to finish.

+ The cat and mouse game between Devereaux and Mason is excellent.

+ Slick looking action sequences.

- Negatives:

- Some of the acting is stiff at times, Luke Bracey in particular comes across as a little forced at times, although he pulls off a commendable American accent. Maybe it's the fact that he doesn't have the appropriate charisma or screen presence to match Brosnan's own that leaves him feeling a bit hollow.

- The plot can get a bit convoluted at times.

- Unoriginal concept that reverts to the occasional cliché throughout the films running time.

Video and Audio:
The November Man is presented on Blu-ray with a 2.40:1, 1080p High Definition transfer that is of excellent quality that will rival just about any other movie on the market. The images were well detailed and crisp, with sharp lines with a nice contrast. The color palette was terrifically utilized with the beautiful locales the film was shot it, the colors were strong and vivid while the darker colors were nice and bold. The presentation throughout was clean throughout showing no signs of compression or any type of artifacting.

The lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is top notch as well, making sure you hear every bit of dialogue and action loud and clear. Marco Beltrami score is wonderful throughout, with a great range to compliment the mix. The dialogue is crystal clear throughout, with a subtle score over the quieter scenes, and amp up appropriately during the action scenes, although never overtaking what's happening on the screen. There were no signs of any sort of dropout or distortion throughout the track.

Extras: - Commentary on the film with it's star and producer, Pierce Brosnan, the film's director, Roger Donaldson, whom has worked with Pierce before on Dante's Peak, and Beau St. Clair, Pierce's partner on his production company, Irish Dreamtime.

I've only heard one commentary track from Brosnan prior to this, and that was on his lackluster final Bond film, Die Another Day where he came across as bored, constantly justifying the film's faults. Here he is much more lively with great chemistry with the other two joining him. The trio talk about how this was a passion project for Pierce for roughly 6 years, the various shooting locations, how the film was cast, Bond, the books the film is based off of, Brosnan returning to the spy genre and more. It's a very informative commentary that's worth a listen.

- Brosnan is back: A seven minute behind the scenes feature with various members of the cast and crew, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko, Roger Donaldonson in particular, talking about what it's like working with Brosnan and what he's like as a person. Brosnan occasionally chimes in talking about what it's like returning to the spy game after over a decade.

- The making of The November Man. An eleven minute feature with Pierce, Bracey, Olga, Donaldosn, and St. Clair discussing the process of getting the film made.

- Bringing Belgrade to the big screen - A six minute behind the scenes feature with Pierce Brosnan and the crew discussing how and why they chose their location to stage the film.

- The November Man theatrical trailer.

- Sneak peeks.

While it may not be entirely original or an amazing film, The November Man is one hell of a ride that never lets up. I'm sure most that check this film out are doing so to see Pierce Brosnan step back into the genre that made him a superstar. Brosnan is tailor made for the part, and those who are seeing it for that reason should know he delivers in the role of Devereaux with great aplomb, reminding us that he hasn't missed a step, as much of the film lays on the shoulder of his performance, although the supporting cast is solid enough as well. The action is superb and the film has a terrific soundtrack and locations. The only real downside of The November Man is that it falls back on the typical genre clichés a few times. Recommended.

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