I’m a sucker for genre when it comes to film. I love the John Wayne and Clint Eastwood Westerns and characters of my youth. Almost any period piece has me from the beginning. Jack Nicholson in China Town, or opposite Brando in Missouri Breaks, is still a treat for me. The Ten Commandments; A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop; Bladerunner; Saturday Night Fever; and Casablanca are among my favorites for their commitment to cultural expression. Quentin Tarantino is a genre unto himself and I love his unique and identifiable aesthetic. Some would say my palate is not refined, and I could hardly argue with that, but for better or worse, I have my likes and dislikes. Just because I enjoy Pabst Blue Ribbon doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a fine wine pairing with a gourmet meal as well.
When I saw the trailers for November Man with Pierce Brosnan I thought the bones for a great spy-thriller were promising. I imagined Pierce Brosnan revising a bit of 007 and a touch of Remington Steele. As such, this movie was a huge disappointment. I was entertained by the cliche packed dialogue and visuals, right down to the close-up of a motorcycle back tire spinning out and Brosnan staring down the barrel of a bad guy’s gun and deftly snatching it from his hand. All of the other tags are there: car chase through city streets, high-tech tracking, good agents gone wrong, bad agents that aren’t so bad afterall, old trusted spook buddies, new spy making a name for himself, etc. The connection between Brosnan’s 007 and Devereaux proves to be a May-November relationship. Brosnan still looks good, if that’s important, but he is less convincing as the volatile killing machine bent on…revenge? Justice? Survival? Less convincing in his anger and not imposing at all. He is, as always, refined in a masculine everyman sort of way. Frankly, Brosnan appeared so old and weak that I can’t even imagine him in The Expendables.
I’ll go right out and see the next Brosnan spy movie because I am a sucker for the spy genre and I’d rather see one of my old favorites and complain about it than sever my relationship after one unsatisfying film. That means he has one more chance and if it’s a turkey then shame on me. I’d like to see Brosnan take on strong leading roles with which he can do a convincing job. I’d like to see Brosnan avoid the indignity of films like The Expendables (and November Man) and take on a role that showcases his depth. Surely he has professional and life experiences that lend well to different characters and scripts. Now is the time for Brosnan to showcase his craft, to show changes, to adapt to life.