Pierce Brosnan made no secret of the fact that he was left ‘in shock’ when the James Bond producers dropped him from the role of a lifetime in 2004. He quickly bounced back, securing the rights to author Bill Granger’s ‘November Man’ series of spy thrillers with a plan to kickstart his new franchise in 2006. Well, he’s only eight years late.
Ironically, the character Brosnan plays here – retired-but-deadly CIA operative Peter Devereaux – is a lot closer to Daniel Craig’s surly, angst-ridden Bond than to Brosnan’s own laidback take on the character. But that’s where the similarities end. In contrast to the flashy, action-heavy fantasies of recent 007 adventures, ’November Man’ is dour, small-scale and determinedly real-world, with a Chechen War-inspired plotline playing on real conspiracy theories about the rise of Vladimir Putin.
Brosnan is the best thing here, as watchable as ever despite being lumbered with self-conscious killer-with-issues characterisation. But elsewhere the film falls flat: old-timer Roger Donaldson’s direction is workmanlike, and while the script does pile on neat twists, it ultimately boils down to a tired game of who’s-betraying-who. The spy who bored me.