Friday, September 12, 2014

"The November Man": indeed, "There Are No Spies", but there are angels

Roger Donaldson’s “August” thriller “The November Man” is based on Bill Granger’s book “There Are No Spies” and it could have been titled “there are no victims.”  One of the most revealing lines occurs early when Hanley (Bill Smitrovich), an old CIA “uppie” says to Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan, looking quite grizzled early) “the CIA is about collecting people”, not just information.  Indeed, an important question in any CIA novel or movie is how the upstairs-people learn what they know and how they really set priorities, what makes them tick.
The plot revolves on some dimensional axes.  Peter has trained a clean-cut apprentice Mason (Luke Bracey), who seems as nice and innocent as the kid at the end of “Boyhood”. (“What do you want to do when you grow up, Mason?”)  When Mason messes up in the prequel (resulting in a child’s death in Montenegro), the conflict between the two is set in motion. Five years later, after Peter has retired and lives in Switzerland. Hanley wants him back for a double-crossing operation that will capture the next president of Russia, Federov (Lazar Ristovski) and bring him into the west.  There are female agents involved, especially Natalia (Mediha Muslovic) to win over and trap. 
The resulting plot is one of the most complicated of all time.  The details of the synopsis are on Wikipedia, and they go on forever.  It’s amazing this fits into 108 minutes.  Federov is not Putin (for one thing, he has chest hair).  The movie tends to suggest that the CIA was originally behind the meltdown in Chechyna, and the transparent implication is that such treachery led to the Boston Marathon bombing, as if the aim of the CIA were to go after Muslims anywhere.  The film will require a messy reconciliation between Peter and Mason.  An interesting subplot concern’s Mason’s female neighbor in Belgrade, Serbia (where most of the film is shot), a connection started by her cat, who decides that Mason must be a good person. Animals know a lot.
The official site is here, from Relativity Media and Rogue.  This film appears to be independently produced, although it is marketed as a suburban mall movie.  The title of the film means that Peter's character normally leaves death behind him.  But he has a tween daughter who becomes another pawn in the plot. 
It's rather curious the way a piece by French compoer Erik Satie is used in the background score. 
The movie differs from my own book “Angel’s Brother” in some important aspects.  I start in present day, and my two agents, one of them a college student getting recruited, become male lovers, breaking up the older man’s marriage.   I have little violence.  I present the backstories in subsequent chapters and interludes, some of them embedded in the writings of the mystery character “Bill” whose writings the college student has hacked from the Cloud.  Since the “adversaries” (as such) seem to be human space aliens (as in “The Event”) the CIA brass has no agenda for using them at first, it really needs to know if the “dorm rumors” or barracks banter is really true. 

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