The November Man

September 2nd, 2014 by Max Allan Collins
The November Man

You should probably see THE NOVEMBER MAN, the new Pierce Brosnan espionage thriller. I attach the “probably” because for all its merits, Brosnan’s return to Bond territory is less than great. It’s a movie easy to damn with faint praise – “pretty good,” “not bad” – but for anyone who’s a fan of the Bond films, this is required viewing.

It’s a typically convoluted spy thriller, with Bourne-ish element and even Le Carre aspects, with strong if not mind-blowing action scenes. But what it mostly has to offer is Brosnan thumbing his nose at the Bond producers who let him go prematurely. Brosnan was excellent in his four Bond films, and not at all to blame for the unfortunate excesses of DIE ANOTHER DAY, which proved to be his final outing.

Here he demonstrates both charisma and toughness, and a streak of brutality not seen in Bond since the Fleming books themselves. Thematically, the film has him as a legendary secret agent who retired ten years ago and now is getting yanked back into the game. He’s up against Luke Bracey’s younger agent – read: Daniel Craig (there’s an even more direct reference early on, when Brosnan’s shown photos of agents who were recent victims of a Russian assassin, and the final dead agent is identified glumly by Brosnan as “Craig”). Fleming’s famous “blunt instrument” description of a good secret agent is invoked, and the female lead, quite good, is “Bond Girl” Olga Kurylenko (QUANTUM OF SOLACE). We’re not meant to think that Brosnan’s character might really be Bond – as was the case with Sean Connery in THE ROCK – but these references add up to a sort of kiss-his-ass valentine to the Bond films. My favorite moment might be Brosnan yanking a guy off a motorcycle but not climbing on and riding off – just stepping over the thing on his shark-like way.

The budget doesn’t allow Bourne or Bond level stunts and set pieces, and the script is uneven. The usually first-rate Bill Smitrovich (Lt. Cramer in TV’s NERO WOLFE and a co-star of THE LAST LULLABY) is given some bad dialogue and responds by chewing the scenery like a starving billygoat. But it’s worth seeing for anyone with an affection for Brosnan as Bond.

* * *

Here’s a nice article that gives Terry Beatty and me some credit for the re-birth of crime comics via MS. TREE.

Vanity Fair online, of all places, has this positive look at novelizations, with quotes from me and my pal Lee Goldberg.

Here’s a nice discussion of Mickey Spillane and Mike Hammer, with an emphasis on the radio version and mentions of my completions of unfinished work from Mickey’s files.

Finally, this link to an early ‘60s ALLEY OPP comic book includes a nice boost for my documentary, CAVEMAN: V.T. HAMLIN & ALLEY OOP.

The San Diego Comic-Con International site posted a photo of author Jonathan Maberry and me at the 2014 IAMTW tie-in panel.


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6 Responses to “The November Man”

  1. Joe Menta says:

    Thanks for the movie review, Max. I always enjoy your take on what’s out there. On the book front, I was just about to pick up “The Consummata” on my Kindle, then thought for the heck of it to check and see if the first book in the series, Mickey’s “The Delta Factor” was available to download. It was, and for only 99 cents. So I’m now reading that one first before sending some royalties your way with a purchase of the second one. So far “The Delta Factor” is a lot of fun!

  2. Max Allan Collins says:

    Mickey got a great response from critics and fans on DELTA FACTOR and Morgan the Raider, but the debacle of the film version soured him on the character. To a lesser degree, that stalled the return of Mike Hammer when THE GIRL HUNTERS wasn’t hugely successful as a film. So for a while in the ’60s he concentrated on Tiger Mann. Though there were no films, Tiger Mann was second only sales to James Bond in those peak spy craze years.

  3. Paul.Griffith says:

    You stated that both SUPREME JUSTICE and WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER have hit the 50,000 mark. I was wondering how the Hammer collaborations compared, if they sold better or were slower, which ones sold better, etc.

  4. Randy Clark says:

    I was lecturing about tie-in novels in my class today. I worked in some information from that Vanity Fair article and mentioned your Bones and CSI novels.

  5. Max Allan Collins says:

    Paul, I don’t have sales figures on the new Hammer titles, but they do respectable business. Not what they should do, and not what the two Amazon originals have.

    Randy, thanks for this.

  6. Gerard says:

    I enjoyed Brosnan’s Bond. The later films did veer into Moonraker gadget territory.

    I liked how Brosnan played him as a killer in a tuxedo, not a playboy with a side job.