THE NOVEMBER MAN — A Slick But Clichéd Spy Thriller [Two Cents]

Two Cents is an original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team will program films and contribute our best, most insightful, or most creative thoughts on each film using a maximum of 200 words each. Guest writers and fan comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future entries to the column. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion.

The Pick

Although overshadowed by fellow Irishman Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan has been quietly building up an “older action hero” persona following a similar trajectory. The one-time James Bond (and Skyfall’s huge missed opportunity) returns to cinemas this week in the spy thriller Survivor alongside Milla Jovovich (check out our interview with director James McTeigue!), so we’re taking this opportunity to catch up on his last spy film, The November Man.

Did you get a chance to watch along with us this week? Want to recommend a great (or not so great) film for the whole gang to cover? Comment below or post on our Facebook or hit us up on Twitter!

Next Week’s Pick:

Next week the Wachowskis’ massive, possibly overinflated space saga Jupiter Ascending hits home video, putting us in the mind of checking out the opposite end of their filmography, the early indie effort Bound. Come watch with us!

Would you like to be a guest in next week’s Two Cents column? Simply watch and send your under-200-word review to twocents(at)!

The Team


When watching The November Man, I was reminded that the list of films like this one that I actually truly enjoy is quite limited. And by “films like this one”, I mean spy themed action films. And by saying the list is “limited”, I mean that I don’t hate most of them but I can count on just a few fingers which films in this sub-genre that I really dig a lot.

Brosnan is good. The action is solid. The plot doesn’t suck. It’s just not my cup of tea. It’s not because of obvious tropes (for example, the retired spy that gets pulled back into the world of espionage). It’s not because of anything the film does wrong. It’s really just because I didn’t connect with it.

Objectively, I think the film could be shaved down a solid 15 minutes, the dark sets and lighting are a bit much at times, and I’ve seen most of what this film does in other films that do it better.

Subjectively, as I said above, I just didn’t like it.

So all in all, it was fine, but I have no intention of rewatching it. (@thepaintedman)


Say this for The November Man: it moves fast. Many modern spy/action films are weighed down by chunks of exposition, spending interminable amounts of screen time with characters explaining the plot to each other. November Man, comparatively, opens at a sprint and doesn’t really stop for the entirety of its almost two hour length. The plot is your usual labyrinth of conspiracies and triple-crosses, but the film is so breathless that it’s hard to get caught up on any particular plot point. There are moments when it seems to aim for something heavier than potboiler fun (there’s a truly misjudged rape scene) and those mostly fall flat.

What to make of Pierce Brosnan? His run as Bond was marred by truly heinous writing, and he’s mostly succeeded in the time since by knowingly playing to our preconceptions. Here, the writing can’t seem to decide exactly what type of grizzle spy archetype he is (possibly because they’re adapting the seventh book in an ongoing series) so Brosnan plays all of them at once. He’s good at it, but like the rest of the movie it’s more a bunch of likable enough elements not put into any kind of especially memorable sequence. (@TheTrueBrendanF)


The November Man isn’t bad, but it put me in a foul mood because watching how deliciously bleak Pierce Brosnan is in this film just makes me that much more upset that his Bond wasn’t the villain in Skyfall. He should have been, obviously. Bond fans might also catch a bit of a jab in The November Man‘s dialogue as he condescendingly refers to his overzealous protege as “a blunt instrument”, a descriptor commonly applied to Daniel Craig’s version of the Bond character.

The film’s a bit of a mess with sudden reversals and confusing character arcs that don’t always make sense, but I tend to forgive a lot in any movie that features Olga Kurylenko so prominently. With plenty of action and enjoyable performances, The November Man gets enough right to be worthwhile entertainment. (@VforVashaw)

Alice Cooper’s name is Vincent Furnier. Coincidence?


I am a worst case scenario audience for The November Man. I find Brosnan largely annoying, and spy movies in general are not something I care about. Even large, slick, action movies are hit or miss for me, and this film could be seen as that as well. Still, there is something endearing about the film if one can see past how surface it is. The twists and turns, the general frenetic pace, are all fine enough for what they are. There are a lot of spy movie clichés, and if I was huge spy movie person I would find them I suppose extra tiresome. I simply went with it though, and found the entire thing mostly forgettable. Perhaps my one disappointment was a general hope that I would find Brosnan more endearing than annoying. He is not so bad in this, but it didn’t change my mind about him. I think if I could have felt more invested in any of these characters, November Man might have gone from tiresome to engaging, but I did not regret watching it. (@liamrulz)

Did you all get a chance to watch along with us? Share your thoughts with us here in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook!

Get it at Amazon:
The November Man — [Blu-ray] | [DVD] | [Instant]

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