Here Pierce Brosnan plays ex-CIA operative Peter Devereaux, a cold, hard drinking killer who hardly thinks twice about killing. Brought back into the field he winds up in a plot concerning the future of international politics. Naturally the entire operation goes to hell and Devereaux finds himself alone and on the run from the CIA and Russian assassins as he tries to find the mysterious woman at the center of it all.
The real standout in The November Man is Pierce Brosnan himself who really does go above and beyond in his portrayal of Devereaux. Many modern viewers criticize Brosnan's Bond for being on the lighter side, but clearly that had more to do with the series direction and scripts than Brosnan himself. He totally sells the role of a cold blood, professional killer in The November Man and leaves you wondering how things might have been if his tenure as Bond had taken a darker direction. Watching him here I found myself thinking: "Man, give Pierce Brosnan one last Bond film as an aging 007 and he'd be FANTASTIC." Scenes where he confronts his former protégé are especially well executed. As it stands this will be the closest we get to seeing Brosnan play a dark Bond and it is the best element of the film. If you're a fan of Brosnan -as I am- this is reason enough to see The November Man.
Unfortunately, as great as Brosnan is, the movie's plot doesn't live up to his performance. The November Man is needlessly complicated, constantly introducing new plot threads, conflicts, and twists that only serve to muddle the narrative flow. There is nothing wrong with a complex spy thriller, but it needs to be original and The November Man just doesn't bring anything new to the table. There is nothing awful about it, there's just very few memorable moments (and all those hinge on Brosnan's performance).
The November Man could have really benefited from a more focused plot. If the filmmakers had narrowed it down to one or two primary plots and simplified the narrative it would have really been a solid action thriller along the lines of Taken. As it is there are just too many predictable twists and clichés and they pull the film down.
That all being said The November Man is definitely worth a matinée screening in cinemas or rental once it's available at home. At 61 Pierce Brosnan successfully proves he can still carry an action film and shows he can tackle far darker roles than many gave him credit. Even if I don't think The November Man is a knockout it has whet my appetite for future Brosnan action films which hopefully can deliver a script worthy of his talent and on screen charisma.