Movie review: “November Man” just a poor man’s Bond

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From the August 28, 2014 edition

Pity poor Pierce Brosnan. The actor who was clearly born to play James Bond finally did for a run of four movies before Daniel Craig took over for a reboot that completely revitalized the series.

If you’re a person itching for another Brosnan Bond movie, it’s laughably obvious that’s what “The November Man” aims to be, right down to the casting of a former Bond girl. It’s a poor man’s Bond, though, packed with clichés and only getting its punch from violence.

Devereaux (Brosnan) is an ex-CIA agent brought back for one more mission that pits him against his former pupil, Mason (Luke Bracey). Then there’s something in there about the new Russian president. I didn’t really follow that. Oh, and a beautiful woman with a hard-to-place European accent gets involved (Olga Kurylenko).

This is some serious paint-by-numbers spy stuff, the kind your dad would probably like. Apart from casting an actual Bond, it’s got that rogue agent thing from the Bourne movies and plenty of car chases on narrow European streets.

“November Man” also marks the reunion of Brosnan and “Dante’s Peak” director Roger Donaldson (who also directed “Species”). He strings together his action pieces — violence got a lot of cheers at the preview screening — but the larger plot is often muddy. I guess he makes up for it with bloody headshots.

Brosnan is, well, pretty much what you’d expect. His Devereaux has some fiery moments that make you wish Brosnan had gotten to play with the more off-the-chain Bond that Craig made famous.

As for Devereaux’s pupil, he’s even less realized. If that plot point was supposed to have impact, it didn’t. Bracey’s Mason is as exciting as watching wallpaper dry (which is even less exciting than watching paint dry).

I will give it this: The pace is generally brisk enough to distract you from the plot holes, although there’s a 20-minute epilogue after what feels like a finale. “November Man” will scratch that spy itch, but it also makes you itch for the return of Bond.