Archive for the ‘Roger Donaldson’ Category

Chechen Revenge

November Man

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Director: Roger Donaldson

Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko, Bill Smitrovich, Lazar Ritovski, Eliza Taylor, Will Patton, Patrick Kennedy, Caterina Scorsone

Former Bond actor Pierce Brosnan (Die Another Day, Goldeneye) resuscitates the spy genre with former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) in the convoluted yet sophisticated thriller November Man directed by Australian Roger Donaldson (The Recruit).

As the action moves from a botched assassination in Montenegro by CIA rookie David Mason, played by Australian actor Luke Bracey to Switzerland where retired CIA operative Devereaux is languishing in a café in Lake Lausanne who is soon thrust back into the murky world of Eastern European counter espionage as he has to investigate a rising Russian politician who has been accused of Chechen war crimes.

As the plot unfolds for November Man based upon the novel There are No Spies by Bill Granger Devereaux finds himself in Belgrade, Serbia protecting Alice Fournier played by Kurylenko who was a social worker to a Chechen refugee Mira who witnessed this Russian beaurocrat Arkady Federov played by Lazar Ritovski start a war in Chechnya http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chechnya to extract oil for Russian interests. Except like in most spy novels and never as elegantly told as a John le Carre story, there are numerous twists in this espionage tale.

With November Man, Brosnan still has that muscular gritty edge which got him the part of James Bond back in the mid 1990’s and the dynamic between him and his young CIA protégé Mason played by Bracey (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) makes for interesting and intense viewing, coupled with loads of actions sequences, an unexpectedly high body count and sufficient plot twists which involves a crooked CIA agent and a deadly Russian assassin.

Whilst there are aspects of November Man which are stylistically and logistically questionable, director Donaldson keeps the gritty realist spy genre grounded and evenly paced, similar to the hugely successful Bourne movies. This is Spy Games without the megalomaniacs and lavish liars seen in such films as Moonraker and Tomorrow Never Dies.

This is Brosnan in the autumn of his career in a sort of retired Jack Reacher mode seen in several dubious locations. Let’s face it Belgrade isn’t exactly Venice or Paris, yet Donaldson does make use of the locations in one of Europe’s oldest capital’s especially  tapping into Serbia’s bloody and controversial history as part of the former Yugoslavia which plays well into the Balkan backstory of dodgy Russian politicians committing atrocities in the Caucuses.

Not as slick as the Bourne movies or as glamourous and inventive as the Bond films, but November Man still proves that there is longevity in the spy genre, one in which Hollywood seems to have relinquished.

November Man is recommended viewing for those that like compelling action, lots of violence and an unscrupulous spy game whereby no one appears innocent. Ukrainian beauty Olga Kurylenko is suitably fabulous in her home territory especially in the seduction sequence at a swanky Belgrade hotel.

 

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