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Movie Review

James Bond? What a joke.

Spies aren't issued portable jetpacks or invisible cars. They don't while the night away playing baccarat. The only thing the CIA ever gave Peter Devereaux, it would seem, is a paycheck and a gun. The only gambling he ever did on the clock was with his own life.

'Course, that's ancient history now. Peter quit the CIA back in 2008 after a botched operation in Montenegro. He's living in Switzerland, running a nice lakeside café, serving up hot sandwiches, not hot lead.

Then one day, his old boss Hanley slides into the little eatery and asks Peter if he'd like to take on one last job. Seems a number of operatives are winding up dead in Russia, perhaps by the hand of former war criminal and current presidential candidate Arkady Federov. And one of the CIA's key moles—Natalia Ulanova, Federov's own personal assistant—is getting nervous.

Natalia has new and critical dirt on Federov. But she won't cough it up until she's safe. Hanley says there's only one man Natalia trusts to do the job: Peter. Her confidant. Her lover. The father of their daughter.

Peter swings back into action like the old pro he is. He rescues Natalia from near-certain death and they speed away in his rented SUV, the bad guys in hot pursuit. Racing through the streets of Moscow, Natalia says what Peter's dying to hear—the name of the woman who can bring Federov down. Then a bullet punctures the windshield and lodges in Natalia's forehead. Cars crash and Peter leaps out, handgun blazing as assailants fall like carnival targets. Just one man is left. One more to ki—

Heeey, wait a minute: It's Peter's old CIA partner, Mason—he of the itchy trigger finger in Montenegro—pointing the gun. It doesn't look like he switched sides. So if Mason's still working for the CIA, and Peter's working for the CIA … just who here has the actual license to kill?

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Positive Elements

In the Montenegro operation, Peter shows that he's willing to take a few bullets and risk an operation to try to safeguard a child. And he does his dead-level best to protect his sources and save other innocent lives while harassing evildoers.

Mason, for his part, stays to help his girlfriend when she's injured. He risks his life to save a child. And he shows a willingness to peer through the CIA's murky power structure and follow what's right instead of mindlessly following orders.

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Peter and Alice (who is helping Peter try to bring down Federov) meet a source in his strip club. The man is described as a pimp, and the scene is filled with topless women wearing only panties. Two of them are seen caressing and kissing in a rather graphic and intimate way. Alice dresses up as a prostitute (which is to say she wears very little) to get close to a bad guy. (Security personnel try to get a look—and feel—under her getup.) Once in the villain's bedroom, she straddles her underwear-clad mark.

Crude terms are used to refer to female body parts. We see a picture of a dead agent in a bathtub, her breasts visible. Surveillance pictures show Peter and Natalia in bed together, kissing and touching.

Mason has sex with a woman who lives in his apartment complex. They end up nearly naked and move through a series of sexual positions. (We see lots of explicit movement and hear all manner of groans.)

Federov, who is known to participate in human trafficking, rapes a teen girl. (We see the awful act, his sexual motions included, from her helpless point of view.) She tells others that she was abused multiple times by the one-time general.

Violent Content

We're told that Peter earned his nickname November Man because after he sweeps through, pretty much everything dies. Among other things, we see him threaten Mason's girlfriend and cut open an artery in the girl's leg. He "plays" Russian roulette with someone to get him to talk.

Various hits, smacks, vicious beatdowns, bloody shootings and car (or motorcycle) wrecks cause quite a lot of pain and injury and death. A car blows up, the concussion tossing folks around. Someone's nearly choked to death with a hose. A man has his throat cut and is stabbed several times. Even as he bleeds out, he grabs his assailant, who kicks him in the face to get away. A woman is smashed in the face with a shovel, knocking her out. Others are also hit in the face, blood spraying out of their mouths.

As mentioned, Natalia is shot in the face, and blood coats the inside of the car. A young girl's family is slaughtered in front of her, shot execution style. A boy is killed by a stray bullet. (We see his grief-stricken mother cradling his blood-stained body.) Pictures are shown of dead agents and prostitutes. Agents are nearly mummified in saran wrap. (They're given straws to breathe through.) A man, thinking he's about to have sex with a prostitute, is instead assaulted with a shard of glass.

Crude or Profane Language

About two-dozen f-words and a half-dozen s-words. We also hear lots of uses of "a--," "b--ch," and "h---." Peter makes an obscene gesture. References to sexual body parts include "tw-t" and "t-t." God's name is combined three times with "d--n." Jesus' name is equally abused.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A stripper/prostitute snorts cocaine. Peter has a drinking problem, slamming back Scotch, among other things. Drunk, he taunts an old friend, his words slurring. Federov often puffs on a huge cigar, while others smoke cigarettes.

Other Negative Elements

Peter breaks into apartments. CIA agents act in duplicitous and underhanded ways, breaking international laws for shadowy purposes all their own.

Conclusion

Hanley says the CIA doesn't really collect intelligence. Instead it collects people. Simple knowledge or information, he suggests, isn't worth his or his agency's time.

This might explain why The November Man feels a little dumb.

This obscene and oddly disjointed spy thriller is a mess from the get-go, slopping around in its blood-happy violence and completely extraneous (completely explicit) sex scenes. While the flick gives Pierce Brosnan a chance to play a spy again, the suave former 007 feels miscast as the bleak and ruthless November Man, and his charm gets lost in the movie's sadism. It's one thing to have our "hero" gunning down Russian adversaries to keep from getting killed himself. It's quite another to have him break into his old partner's apartment, put a gun to the guy's girlfriend's head and, finally, slash her leg for no apparent reason at all.

The November Man feels like a dangerous drunk, pairing a confused and wobbly story with a depressing mean streak. It is also exactly like the month it's named after, both cold and dreary.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Pierce Brosnan as Peter Devereaux; Luke Bracey as Mason; Olga Kurylenko as Alice; Bill Smitrovich as Hanley; Amila Terzimehic as Alexa; Lazar Ristovski as Arkady Federov; Will Patton as Perry Weinstein; Mediha Muliovic as Natalia Ulanova; Eliza Taylor as Sarah

Director

Roger Donaldson ( The Bank JobThe RecruitThirteen Days)

Distributor

Relativity Media

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

August 27, 2014

On Video

November 25, 2014

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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