THE NOVEMBER MAN. Relativity Media, 2014. Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko, Bill Smitrovich, Amila Terzimehic. Will Patton. Director: Roger Donaldson.

   The concept is compelling; it’s the execution that’s flawed. That’s pretty much how I would describe The November Man to anyone who wanted a brief, succinct answer to the question: “What did you think of the movie?”

   Adapted from Bill Granger’s espionage thriller There Are No Spies, the seventh entry in the author’s “November Man” series, the movie is grounded in the realities of the post-Cold War world and has a solid, reliable lead in Pierce Brosnan. But it ultimately ends up being nothing more than a stunningly average spy film, one that relies on twists and turns that are – for those familiar with the genre, at least – clearly visible from miles away.

   The movie opens at a fast clip, with the viewer immediately thrust into the action. CIA operative Peter Devereaux (Brosnan) and junior partner, David Mason (Luke Bracey) are in Montenegro and are on an assassination mission. Things don’t go according to plan. Brosnan is hit. And a young child is wounded, perhaps fatally.

   Years pass and we find a retired Devereaux (the spy in retirement trope!) living in Lausanne, Switzerland. That’s when his former boss, John Hanley (Bill Smitrovich) shows up, asking Devereaux to take on one last mission: to extract a CIA asset from Russia by the name of Natalia Ulanova. She’s currently working for Arkady Fedorov, a former Russian Army general who is on his way to becoming president of the Russian Federation and has information that supposedly could bring Federov crashing down.

   That’s where the twists and turns begin. Can Devereaux really trust that he is taking on a legitimate mission or has he been set up? Things get interesting when we learn that Federov apparently kidnapped and sexually assaulted a young girl during the Second Chechen War.

   Things get more interesting when we learn that this girl may still be alive and that she may have been witness to a meeting between a CIA Agent and Federov that set into motion that deadly conflict.

   Most of the film follows Devereaux as he attempts to make sense of a confusing, fast-moving situation. He not only finds himself at odds with Mason, his former protegee, but having to protect a social worker (Olga Kurylenko) who supposedly knows the whereabouts of Federov’s victim.

   Now don’t get me wrong. I like Roger Donaldson’s work and consider his thriller, No Way Out (1987) one of the best, if consistently underappreciated, spy films ever. But here he feels as if he was just going through the motions. While there’s not necessarily anything wrong with the direction, there’s nothing particularly captivating about it either. The action sequences, filmed on the streets of Belgrade, are about as ordinary as can be. If it weren’t for Brosnan, one wouldn’t really pay much attention to them at all.