Spy thriller that can't escape genre cliches

Spy thriller that can't escape genre cliches

NOVEMBER MAN (NC16)
Thriller/108 minutes/Opens today

Rating: 3/5

The story: CIA agent Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan), code-named November Man, comes out of retirement for a final assignment at his former boss' request.

It leads him to the vulnerable aid worker Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko), a cover-up of a war crime and the growing suspicion of a mole in the CIA.

He also crosses paths with his former subordinate, David Mason (Luke Bracey).

Based on the novel There Are No Spies (1987) by Bill Granger.

If the paths of Brosnan and Kurylenko had crossed back when they were part of a different spy thriller franchise, she could well have ended up in his bed.

Brosnan had played James Bond from 1995's GoldenEye to 2002's Die Another Day, while she played the Bond girl in Quantum Of Solace (2008).

But November Man wants to be a different kind of spy thriller, a little more grounded and a little less fantastical and a little less overtly sexy/sexist.

It succeeds only to a certain extent, unable to completely break free of the genre's conventions.

At first, it paints a rather grim picture of what life is like for a spy, instead of the GQ glamour spread that the Bond movies used to convey.

Devereaux makes the point to Mason that human connection is a luxury that they cannot afford.

"You feel the need for a relationship, get a dog," he advises.

What keeps November Man interesting for a while is the relationship between master and pupil, and how its dynamics change over the course of the movie.

Mason goes from being an impulsive rookie who botches a mission to a skilled killer agent and, yet, Devereaux can still get inside his head.

In one tense manhunt sequence, Devereaux keeps Mason talking, and guessing, on the phone as he schools the latter on how to make an escape.

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