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IN SHORT: A great popcorn worthy spy flick.. [Rated R. 108 minutes]
We begin by mixing metaphors: Just as Obi-Wan had student Luke, to carry on the ways of The Force, so does ace CIA operative Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) to his protege, David Mason (Luke Bracey). Both teachers pass on the most important instruction to their students: never allow emotional relationships to form. As is explained, and later demonstrated in the big screen story of The November Man, any person to whom (anyone) falls in love becomes a potential victim. Or a club to be wielded by the enemy. So... don't fall in love.
Guess where that's gonna go . . .
Welcome to the end of Summer, the time when studios toss what they consider their lesser films to the winds to see what survives. The studios proceed to prepare their "films" for statue considerations. We watch movies. We like watching movies. Even if they are lightweight enough that we can step out to the bathroom and not miss much, so much the better.
We don't recommend that with The November Man, a film which attempts to twist its story into different directions, and change its character's motivations every five minutes or so. It would be a tough sit without a couple of ridiculously long chase scenes in which the aforementioned Master torments his Student via a cell phone call. It is outrageous and would be ripped to pieces in any other movie at any other time of the year. But, in the dregs of August, it is a welcome relief.
In the old days it was the CIA versus the Russian KGB. The good guys (ours) are Devereaux and Mason, the former teaching the latter in the ways of becoming a perfect agent. Five years down the line Devereaux has retired, the Soviet Union has fallen and the world is a very different place. Mason is a rising star in the new CIA and a former Russian general, Arkady Federov (Lazar Ristovski), is soon to become president of Russia. Federov is a "hero" of the Second Chechen War, to his people. He is a hero because, unknown to them, he brutally raped, tortured, murdered, enslaved and all sorts. Politicians don't need that kind of dirty laundry following them around, so Federov has hired one nasty killer named Alexa (Amila Terzimehic) to murder anyone who was witness to murder or or rape or torture or pimping or any combination of any of those things.
The enemy in this particular story is former Russian general Arkady Federov (Lazar Ristovski), soon to be the next president of that country. Federov, during the Second Chechen War, committed certain acts that would get him labelled as a war criminal -- if anyone new of them. To cover his [ass] Federov has assigned one nasty [bitch] The general's personal favorite was a deaf-mute Mira Filipova (seen at age 15 played by Nina Mrdja) whose family was murdered by the general and who spent the rest of her childhood as the sex slave of the depraved general. In the present day, though, she is just a name on the general's list of "people who know the awful things I've done" Everyone on that list is slated to be murdered by hired killer Alexa (Amila Terzimehic).
The CIA wants to retrieve as many of the people on that list as possible, but they are late to the game. Both Mason and Devereaux are focussed on Natalia Ulanova (Mediha Musliovic), an undercover CIA agent who is minutes away from being extracted from her position, as the "Number Two" assistant to the aforementioned Federov. Both need to find the mysterious "Mira" who hasn't been seen in years, according to a social worker type called Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko) who now helps [resuscitate] girls once sold into the sex trade by the aforementioned general. Like it or not, Alice finds herself under the protective gun barrell of former agent Devereaux. And away they go!
It is great that the spies know the whole story. The problem is the New York Times reporter, Edgar Simpson (Patrick Kennedy), who has been putting two and two together, effectively showing up in the story at inconvenient times. Not to mention some kind of battle for control of the "situation" by the CIA top dog Agents Weinstein (Will Patton) and Hanley (Bill Smitrovich).
The November Man packs in way too much story material but it keeps it coming fast and furious and is a perfect uber-sized popcorn movie. Like it or hate it, it's a good sit and will remain a good sit when you pick up the DVD or subscribe for the download a couple of months from now.
We, of course, recommend the big screen. It's just more fun that way.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The November Man, he would have paid . . .
We liked it. Expect nothing. Buy the biggest tub you can afford and you'll like it, too.
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