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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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Wednesday, 03 September 2014 23:37

Celebrity Slam - 09/03/14

Toxic

It has been awhile since anything Britney Spears-related has made its way into this space. And that’s a good thing – while we certainly enjoy the antics that get celebrities slammed, we also appreciate it when former famous wild cards start getting their acts together. And Britney – despite a storied history of being gossip fodder – has mostly turned things around.

Wednesday, 03 September 2014 23:06

‘The November Man’ misfires

Action thriller offers little more than formulaic clichés

Late August is one of the bleakest times on the cinematic schedule. We’re at the tail end of blockbuster season – all the big-budget extravaganzas have made their mark – but we also haven’t quite reached the period set aside for prestige pictures. Hence, this time of year is a bit of a dumping ground for films that, for whatever reason, simply don’t warrant that much attention.

Basically, if you’ve got a movie that you know isn’t all that good but it’s in the can and you need to release it, the end of August is where it’s at.

And that explains why, despite  its title, “The November Man” hit theaters this weekend.

Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan, “A Long Way Down”) is a retired CIA agent. He was one of the best, but he’s been out to pasture for a few years. However, he’s brought back into the fold by his former handler, an agent named Hanley (Bill Smitrovich, “Ted”). It turns out that a deep cover agent in Russia has stumbled upon some regime-shaking information – the name of a witness to events that could impact the election of the next Russian president.

But when Peter goes to pull her out, he instead finds himself in the crosshairs of another extraction team – this one led by his old protégé Mason (Luke Bracey, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”). It soon becomes apparent that there are forces at the very highest levels of government – on both sides – willing to go to great lengths to keep this information under wraps.

The key to it all is a young social worker named Alice (Olga Kurylenko, “Vampire Academy”). Alice was the last person to have contact with the eyewitness and so has become a target. Devereux takes it upon himself to protect her so that he might determine who double-crossed him and find a way to bring down any and all corrupted officials along the way.

A lot of people get shot. Like, a LOT.

There’s not a lot to this movie. It feels very much like a warmed-over James Bond rehash. Think of it like this: if a James Bond movie is your dinner, “The November Man” is the leftovers you reheat two days later because there’s nothing else in the fridge and if you don’t eat it now, you’ll just wind up throwing it out.

Everything about this movie is derivative; the lack of originality – while not really surprising – is quite breathtaking. You have seen this movie even if you haven’t seen this movie. The film telegraphs each development before it arrives; there are literally no surprises. Perhaps you take pride in your ability to see what’s coming in a film before it happens. There will be no pride here. If anything, you’ll feel embarrassed for the people involved in making this steaming pile of predictability.

The action sequences manage to be clunky even at a fast pace. They lack any sort of urgency despite the fact that bullets are flying constantly. And the political intrigue at the center of the film’s “plot” is uninteresting, even leaving aside its utter implausibility.

Brosnan is fine in this role – a smooth and suave murder machine – but there’s a weird amoral streak that makes him extremely unlikeable. Of course, no one else in the movie is particularly likeable either, with the possible exception of Kurylenko – she’s relatively inoffensive, which in this crapfest constitutes a star turn. Bracey is a stolid blockhead, ham-fisting his way through scenes with all the subtlety of a rodeo clown. The fact that his character is just the slightest shade more unpleasant than Brosnan’s is the only reason we have anyone to (kinda sorta) root for.

By the time we get to the end of the movie and one of the characters explains the film’s title (it’s Devereaux’s CIA code name – they call him “The November Man” because after he goes through, nothing lives; get it?), all we want is for it to be over. It’s a 108-minute movie that feels twice that long.

It’s unfortunate, really, because there might well have been a decent movie here somewhere. Alas, the filmmakers instead chose to lapse into the same tired old formulaic dreck, giving us a movie that is essentially an inferior version of a film that we’ve already seen – and forgotten.

[1 out of 5]

Wednesday, 03 September 2014 23:00

‘As Above, So Below’ should have stayed buried

Found footage horror film neither frightening nor interesting

While there’s no disputing that the found-footage conceit has breathed new life into the horror movie genre, the truth is that the wave has crested. More and more, found footage has become synonymous with laziness, a quick and dirty shortcut that allows a movie to be churned out despite a lack of any real stylistic vision.

Tuesday, 02 September 2014 22:12

A 2014 fall film preview – 14 for ‘14

The summer of 2014 wasn’t a particularly lucrative one for Hollywood. While there were plenty of action epics and sequels galore, there weren’t many films that truly captured the moviegoing public’s attention in a consistent way. Thus, ticket sales for the season were down.

However, now that we’re making our way into autumn, the studios are offering up a wealth of new films that they hope will help make up that shortfall. There are box office giants and popular properties and a few prestige pictures as well; it’s time to take a look at some of what’s in store.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 10:33

Weird National Briefs - 08/27/14

Hear her roar

RICHLAND, Wash. -A 40-year-old woman tackled a 20-year-old man fleeing from police in Washington state, then taunted him about being taken down by a grandmother.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 09:51

‘When the Game Stands Tall’ fumbles

Inspired-by-real-life sports movie lacks for inspiration

It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for inspirational sports movies. I’m known for it. And if you give me an inspirational sports movie inspired by a true story, then I’m even more in. And if it turns out that said inspirational sports movie is centered on a high school team, then believe it or not, I’m even MORE in.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 09:50

Unoriginal ‘Sin’

‘Sin City: A Dame To Kill For’ falls short

2005’s “Sin City” – adapted from the graphic novel series of the same name by Frank Miller and co-directed by Miller and Robert Rodriguez – was viewed as revolutionary upon its release. Its neo-noir sensibility, brutally graphic violence and unprecedented visual style led to critical and commercial success; in some circles, it is considered the most faithful page-to-screen comic adaptation ever made.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014 21:33

Once more into the breach

Predicting the 2014 NFL season

The evenings are growing brisk and the leaves on the trees are changing their hue. Autumn is almost upon us, and with it comes NFL football. The 2014 season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 4 with the Green Bay Packers heading to Seattle to take on the Seahawks.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014 22:33

Weird National Briefs - 08/20/14

Giraffe gaffe

MADISON, Wis. - Police say a California woman was cited after climbing into the giraffe exhibit at a Madison zoo and getting kicked in the face.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014 22:14

Celebrity Slam - 08/20/14

Teen Choice tantrum

We here at Celebrity Slam have long been fans of the folks over at Disney. They churn out child stars at an incredible rate; the degree of turnover is so high that they need to keep adding to the roster. And while most of these teen queens and Tiger Beat cover fodder grow up to become reasonably well-adjusted adults – either in the entertainment industry or outside of it – the sheer quantity ensures that there are going to be at least a few that go over the edge and wind up appearing in this space.

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