HBO Miniseries 'Olive Kitteridge' Sets November Premiere Dates
HBO has firmed up the premiere dates for its miniseries drama Olive Kitteridge. The first two parts are set to debut on Sunday, November 2 at 9 PM, followed by the final two installments at 9 PM Monday, November 3. Oscar winner Frances McDormand (Fargo, North Country) and Oscar-nominated Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, HBO’s Six Feet Under) star in the mini based on Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.
Sorry, we can’t get married. We’ll never be as good as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie so there’s no point.
2014, Roger Donaldson
Ever since Liam Neeson reinvented himself with a special set of skills in Taken we’ve seen an increasing number of elder stars try to position themselves in the old-guy-kicking-ass genre that saw such a boom for the Irishman’s popularity. From Costner in 3 Days to Kill earlier this year to Sean Penn in next year’s The Gunman (with Taken director Pierre Morel) there’s no shortage of old men with guns at the multiplex these days and the latest hopeful for a new lease on life is Pierce Brosnan, though like Costner this is a man we’ve seen in this field before. As James Bond, Brosnan brought the franchise into a new era that saw him hit the big time with GoldenEye only to fall precipitously downward in each subsequent entry. He’s tried to capture pieces of that world in other efforts like After the Sunset and The Tailor of Panama, but nothing really locked on for the star until he started to stretch himself into a new direction, sometimes for better and sometimes not so much.
When you become James Bond it’s that which will ultimately be your legacy no matter where your career goes afterwards, but in recent years Brosnan has tried his best at a hand of different genres, from the musical Mamma Mia! to foreign romantic comedy Love Is All You Need and beyond. In The November Man, Bond comes home and the taste is stale, obvious and disappointingly awkward. Post-Bond, Brosnan did well to reinvent himself as a man capable of subverting that image, like in his gleefully unhinged performance in the underrated The Matador, but watching Brosnan at the age of 61 trying to return to his prime as an action star leaves a lot to be desired. He was already pushing himself out to pasture over a decade ago in the wretched Die Another Day, which subsequently saw him the only actor to have been “forcibly retired” from his position as Bond, so the idea of Brosnan trying to cash in on the glory days doesn’t spike a lot of promise for what The November Man was going to be able to offer.
Adapted from a series of books by Bill Granger, Brosnan had franchise in mind when he took on the role of Peter Devereaux, an ex-CIA agent who comes out of retirement when a lover is in trouble and finds himself pitted against not only his former bosses but also David Mason (Luke Bracey), the young protege he trained years ago. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before but neither was Taken and that still managed to have a verve and charm that this pale effort doesn’t remotely conjure up. The biggest fault of The November Man is that it makes no genuine statement for its relevance in the elderly action niche, never once feeling like anything other than a lazy, unfocused shadow of greater films that have come out in recent years. Director Roger Donaldson has offered up some of the stronger movies of the action genre since the turn of the century, such as The Recruit and The Bank Job, but here everything seems catered to pushing Brosnan back into that Bond form that he didn’t even fit by the time he was done in that role. Even Quantum of Solace Bond girl Olga Kurylenko shows up to slum it in the requisite damsel in distress who’s more than meets the eye part that is telegraphed from the moment she steps on screen.
While the screenplay by Michael Finch and Karl Gajdusek is never one that you would call “good” or “passable” or “understandable that people were paid money to write this nonsense”, it had managed to stray just shy of offensively bad for the large majority of The November Man's running time. The plot is absolutely incoherent, characters show up out of nowhere just so they can conveniently be at the same place for another dramatic action scene that plays out exactly the same way as the one before it and the dynamics are so thinly drawn they may as well have been written on a cocktail napkin, but hey this is what you get for a movie that's released on August 27th, right? Even with an awkwardly forced Brosnan, the blandest action sidekick this side of Jai Courtney in Luke Bracey and a performance from Bill Smitrovich as the CIA man who pulls Devereaux back in that is sure to be a contender for the worst of the year, The November Man could have at least been able to skate by as a completely forgettable piece of disposable action fluff in the waning days of the summer movie season, but then it went and did something that made it have a lasting mark in a way that it surely didn’t intend for.
It’s in one completely unnecessary subplot that November Man makes its fatal flaw, as Bracey’s endlessly uninteresting Mason finds his apartment constantly invaded by the cat of his neighbor, the sweet and unassuming Sarah (Eliza Taylor). Surely a member of the CIA having his apartment casually broken into by a feline on regular occasion is going to lead to some kind of twist that will put him in peril. This can’t just be an awkward, cheesy romantic comedy way of getting him some action, right? Turns out that’s exactly what it is, as Sarah finally says he’s kind of attractive and later that night the two are screwing while Devereaux spies from the building across the street, preparing to make his move. You see, when the movie began Devereaux was teaching Mason years ago all about how you should never create any personal attachments in their line of work because it can be used against you when someone knows your weakness. Well, now that these two men are on opposite sides of the fight that’s exactly what happens because after all those years Mason finally lets himself be vulnerable at the same time his old mentor is back in his life with a gun pointed at him (this makes sense) and now Devereaux is drinking, yelling and holding a gun at Sarah’s head in Mason’s apartment. It’s a baffling leap in character logic for everyone involved, made even more bizarre by its total irrelevance to the larger plot and the fact that it ultimately goes nowhere.
The climax of this subplot is gratuitous, uncomfortable and extremely frustrating but the most irritating part of it all is the fact that the whole plot could have been excised from the film and it wouldn’t have changed the larger narrative at all. It only would have made the film run smoother, slimmed down its excessive 108-minute running time and left us with a leading man that we were still capable of rooting for. Instead what happens is Devereaux gets his happy ending and I’m left wondering exactly why I’m supposed to be feeling good seeing a man who has done the horrible things he has get away without so much as a smack on the wrist. For the most part it could have been easy to look past The November Man's many flaws and simply accept it as the mindless, incoherent piece of disposable August entertainment that it is, but this plot single-handedly takes it from mediocrity into something far more memorably frustrating. Hopefully Brosnan can soon return to trying out new things because this return to the days of old left me with a very bitter pill to swallow. At least when he's broadening his horizons we get the occasional Ghost Writer along with the Salvation Boulevards.
Maps to the Stars isn’t coming out in the US until next year, ugh.