Continuing in the trend of the “We hate Russians Again” movie genre (see my earlier review of Equalizer), I went to see the November Man. It is not, as far as I could tell, the 11th movie in a series started by January Man, though it could be, I may have missed the other nine movies somehow.
Anyway, in November Man, James Bond, no, wait, Peter Devereaux is a spy for the CIA, even though he’s Pierce Brosnan who is fiercely not American, and that’s weird, but it’s ok, presumably the CIA hires non-Americans to spy for them, so ok, and he’s training young Mason, played by generically attractive Luke Bracey, and young Mason disobeys orders and accidentally shoots a civilian during a job, and then I guess that convinces Bond, er, Devereaux to retire. This is important to the plot of the rest of the movie only tangentially.
Cut to some time later and “not Bond” is retired only his old boss shows up because some Russian spy wants to defect and only “not Bond” can help so here he comes to save the day, and it turns out he used to have a relationship with this chick and they have a kid, and of course young Mason will be angry when he finds out about this cause in that opening sequence “not Bond” mentioned, briefly, that spies shouldn’t date people, and I guess Mason took that to heart and when he finds out “not Bond” dated people he realizes he missed out on lots of sex, or something, and that annoys him.
Anyhoo, of course no one in the CIA knows what’s going on and don’t tell each other things, and Bond saves the Russian girl who has a cell phone full of “evidence” that the guy who might be the next Russian president is actually a war criminal, and really, who cares? But ok, so young Mason and his team show up to get the girl out because they don’t know their boss (who is actually in the situation room running this whole show) sent “not Bond” to get her, and then they’re told to shoot the girl cause she knows too much, or they think she’s been captured by Russians, because young Mason with his sniper rifle can’t be bothered to look two feet to her left to see that his old boss “not Bond” is driving the car she’s in, so he shoots her, then “not Bond” notices the CIA drone, follows it to a parking garage and kills everyone but young Mason, who he has a little showdown with and they point their guns at each other then without saying anything inexplicably walk away from each other, in Russia after a gunfight, and maybe the cops will show up, but who cares.
Now the plot gets complicated because a reporter shows up trying to dig up dirt on Russian Presidential Candidate Guy (henceforth referred to as Federov, if for no other reason than because that’s his name in the credits, and I couldn’t be bothered to remember that, because I still don’t care) and he starts asking this girl, played by Olga Kurilyenko, questions about Federov and what he did during the Chechen war because she’s a refugee case worker and might know some people. Of course it turns out that Olga actually was a refugee, and one that knows all about how evil Federov is, because that’s how things work in the spy world.
Meanwhile, the CIA has taken their boss prisoner because he was at his house looking up information on this Russian prostitute (the one who ends up being Olga) and they figured out he sent Bond in, or maybe because the other guy sent Bond in, or something, and they take him and keep him at whatever location they’re working from because, f*ck due process, right? So they’re questioning him (without his lawyer) and he’s all full of no kinds of help, because he could totally ruin the plot of the movie real quick, so the next guy in line takes over and sends young Mason to kill “not Bond” and young Mason is ok with that because of all the romance he missed out on, and screw that guy.
OK, then “not Bond” saves Olga from being killed by Federov’s Assassin, who suddenly knows who she is somehow and hasn’t killed her in the last however many years since the end of the Chechen war because, I don’t know, it doesn’t matter, just action scene time, ok? And then young Mason chases “not Bond” through the city and then “not Bond” turns around and starts spying on young Mason who started dating his neighbor because now it’s time to get in on all this romance action he’s missed out on for five years. Then just to annoy him further “not Bond” takes his new girlfriend prisoner, cuts her femoral artery so young Mason has to decide between chasing his old boss and saving his girlfriend because he told “not Bond” that he didn’t care about people, and now “not Bond” has to prove him wrong, and he does, because young Mason saves the girl, and then that goes nowhere, so who cares.
Meanwhile, meanwhile Federov shows up at an energy conference and tells his assassin to kill the reporter, “not Bond” breaks into the CIA headquarters where they’re holding their old boss and the old boss tells them that of course Federov is a war criminal but what people really don’t want to come out is that the CIA helped him blow up a building to start the war, because really the American people would give a damn, and then Olga disguises herself as a prostitute and goes to see Federov and then “not Bond” shows up and convinces Federov to admit what he did using the old “one bullet in a gun trick”, Olga looks at pictures “not Bond” brings with him and confirms that Bond’s old boss was the CIA guy who helped Federov, “not Bond” kills more CIA guys as Mason’s team shows up, and no one cares again.
Now “not Bond” finds out that his old boss is keeping his job and has kidnapped his daughter, and Olga will trade herself for the daughter, but “not Bond” convinces her not to, and she goes to wait at a train station where she starts to email everything she knows to the NY Times, but then Federov’s assassin shows up and chaser her around for a little while, but she gets away and gets back to the public computer she was using before it shut off or anyone else started using it, which was damn lucky considering what she was typing, and then “not Bond” meets with his old boss and young Mason, and then Mason kills a bunch of his own CIA people and takes his boss hostage, which I can’t even imagine how that would work out in reality, but it doesn’t matter because all that’s left is for “not Bond” to take his daughter to the train station, meet with Olga and then they go off to live happily ever after.
Oh, but not before one last scene of Federov on his boat being sniped in the head by an assassin. Probably young Mason, but I can’t remember.
Oh, also, in the end they explain why he’s called the “November Man” because was really good at killing people, which is like the month of November that kills off all the plants. Or something. It’s incredibly stupid and unsatisfying.
Ok, that was a giant wall of text, and here’s the TLDR. It’s stupid, the plot is absurd (and becomes more absurd the longer it goes on), there are apparently only 14 people who work for the CIA (with very little oversight), apparently you can just kill CIA agents by the score with no repercussions, Russian elections are all about who committed the least atrocities before becoming politicians (this part may be true) and November is famous for killing plants. Also, I couldn’t be bothered to care about any of it.
November man. Almost as fun as the weather in November. Take that how you will but this movie is a D+ at best.