2014, Movies

The November Man (2014, Roger Donaldson)

This is an over-plotted spy thriller with a hell of lot that doesn’t ring true. (Yes, I recognize that it’s a spy thriller, but they don’t even try to make it realistic.) I spent most of the movie wondering why they couldn’t have just made a better movie.


I wasn’t taking notes so the litany of things wrong with the film will not be complete but I will try to give some idea:

  • Sooo many people die – can we have a spy movie where there isn’t a ridiculous body count?
  • The film has a lot of plot for something that’s under two hours. The novel should have been cut down more as there is just too damn much “this person did that thing” etc. I don’t get confused with spy thrillers often, but at times I found it hard to follow what the hell was happening. There are too many plots threads and too many characters.
  • They can’t get consistent with the languages. They use subtitles at first but then everyone speaks English and I have no idea why. (There are also inconsistencies with style, as if there were multiple directors but I don’t know.)
  • They don’t accurately address everything they’re talking about. Why are their Chechen refugees in Belgrade?
  • Just about everything about the CIA seems false. They have this massive station in Belgrade, apparently. And a higher up just orders some woman killed. And the surveillance team is also the assassination team. And the boss just flies in and has this wood-paneled office (in Belgrade!). And then the Station Chief is thrown into some shipping container and interrogated by his own staff. And on and on and on with this stuff. TheĀ Bourne movies at least tell us that there are secret programs hidden from congressional oversight. Here the CIA is just killing people left and right.
  • Why is there a May November relationship in this?

There were lots of other things but I guess the other biggest problem with this movie is that I had no idea who to root for. I mean, it’s Brosnan’s character, but he’s kind of insane. (At one point he stabs a woman for no apparent reason. This does not come back to haunt him for some reason.) The other guy is clearly not the star, but is at least not stabbing women for no reason. Who are we supposed to root for?

This is one of those movies where the execution of the film is (mostly) up to standard and there’s nothing to quibble with about the acting, but they forgot about character building and reasonable plot, as well as realism. So it’s hard to care.


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