Pierce Brosnan's perfect hair barely budges in the breeze, he fixes his eyes in that narrowed, steely stare, and you remember, yes, he was a pretty good James Bond.
But he's not Bond, not at 61. He's this fellow named Devereaux, and back in the day, when he showed up for an assignment it was like winter had hit. Everything was dead. That's why they called Devereaux "The November Man." Here's a humorless, muddled, bloody and generally unpleasant thriller about an ex-agent sucked back into The Business because somebody needs his help. Or somebody knows something. Or some protege has gone stone cold killer.
That's one of the problems with this Roger "No Way Out" Donaldson film. It leaves us with no clear sense of who to root for, or what. About all we're sure of is the body count, built on bullets and sharp, bloody blades, piles up.
Devereaux trained Mason (Luke Bracey). They're fellow agents, experts on "threat analysis." Years later, Devereaux is summoned by the old boss (Bill Smitrovich) to fetch a woman out of Russia, an agent who has "a name." That name could be the downfall of Russia's next leader.
Things go haywire, as triggers are pulled too quickly and Devereaux shoots all manner of folks, with and without Slavic accents. Mason is after him. Spirited chases through Moscow, guns blazing, give one a whole new appreciation for the place.
Eventually, teacher and pupil and quarry (Olga Kurylenko) and CIA hunters (Will Patton, Caterina Scorsone) and a Russian ballerina-turned-assassin (Amila Terzimehic) all wind up in Belgrade, which apparently is where the money people decided was the cheapest place to film "The November Man."
Brosnan keeps his cool and delivers his lines as an older James Bond-"type." But a few pithy lines, seriously stunt-doubled fights and the odd blast of blood don't give the story clarity or the characters a compelling reason for us to engage in their dilemma.
PLOT A retired CIA agent is pulled back into TheBusiness to confront a former protege.
CAST Pierce Brosnan, Olga Kurylenko, Luke Bracey, Bill Smitrovich, Will Patton, Caterina Scorsone
PLAYING AT Area theaters
BOTTOM LINE Brosnan keeps his cool, but the story is neither clear nor compelling.