In 2008, CIA agent Peter Devereaux supervises a young operative, David Mason, during a protective mission in Montenegro. Mason disobeys Devereaux's orders not to fire, shooting the assassin and killing a child.
Five years later, Devereaux is retired in Lausanne, Switzerland. His former boss, John Hanley, arrives and convinces him to extract Natalia Ulanova, the aide of Russian President-elect and former Army General Arkady Fedorov. Ulanova breaks into Fedorov's safe and copies old photos depicting his war crimes. She contacts the CIA extraction team, and escapes. Fedorov alerts the FSB, who pursue her through the streets of Moscow until Devereaux rescues her. She gives him a name, Mira Filipova, which he relays to Hanley. The CIA team, co-ordinated by Hanley, is unaware of Devereaux's presence. The station chief, Perry Weinstein, gives the order to kill Ulanova, which Mason does. A dying Ulanova hands Devereaux her phone containing the photos. As the CIA team leaves the parking lot, Devereaux kills everyone until he faces Mason at gunpoint. The two separate without shooting. It is revealed that Devereaux and Ulanova were involved before. Hanley is detained for interrogation.
Meanwhile, New York Times journalist Edgar Simpson tracks down refugee case worker Alice Fournier and requests her assistance to write an exposé of Fedorov's war crimes during the 2nd Chechen War. Alexa, an assassin, arrives in Belgrade, and finds out that Fournier will meet Simpson in a cafe. Devereaux also arrives in Belgrade, heads to Hanley's house and finds Fournier as Filipova's only known contact. He arrives at the cafe and rescues Fournier from both Alexa and Mason's team. Fournier says that Filipova pretended to Federov to be mute. She actually spoke Russian and overheard Fedorov's conversations, including the 'false flag' conspiracy to bomb a Russian Army building to initiate war and seizure of Chechen oil fields. A former Fedorov associate, Denisov, confirms the conspiracy and reveals the CIA's involvement. Devereaux sends away Fournier.
Fedorov arrives in Belgrade for an energy conference. Fournier meets Simpson at his apartment where Alexa attacks them and kills him; but Fournier escapes. Devereaux infiltrates the CIA site where Hanley is being held; and Hanley claims Weinstein aided Fedorov and reveals that Fournier is actually Filipova. Mason also discovers the real Fournier died years ago and Filipova stole her identity. Filipova, disguised as a prostitute, goes to Fedorov's hotel room. It is revealed that her family was murdered in front of her by Federov, who raped her later. She surprises Federov but is unable to kill him. As he overpowers her, Devereaux ascends the stairs in the Hotel, shoots the bodyguards, and saves her. Devereaux interrogates Federov, demanding to know the name of the CIA operative involved in the operation. Federov, filmed by Filipova's phone, admits it was Hanley, not Weinstein; and Filipova confirms it. Mason arrives at the hotel but Devereaux and Filipova escape after he knocks out Mason and leaves him Fedorov's recorded confession. However, when Mason and Celia arrive in Langley to present the evidence, they realize that Weinstein has been replaced by Hanley. Devereaux calls Lucy, his and Ulanova's daughter; Hanley answers the phone, having kidnapped her. Devereaux convinces Filipova to go to a train station and wait for him. There, she goes to a public computer to write her story regarding Fedorov. Devereaux meets with Hanley and Mason, stating she will be waiting at a bus station. Mason is tasked to go and recover her. Alexa finds Filipova at the station; but is knocked unconscious by her, who returns, finishes typing and sends it to the press. Hanley reveals his intention to blackmail Federov after he becomes the President, forcing Russia to join NATO against the Middle-East. Celia, Mason's CIA partner, finds the kidnappers' location and he rescues Lucy. He returns to Hanley and helps Devereaux kill Hanley's men and subdue Hanley. Devereaux unites with Lucy and Filipova and they leave on the train.
Later, Filipova testifies at the International Criminal Court against Fedorov, annulling his candidacy. He is later shot in the head by an unknown sniper.
When Pierce Brosnan retired from playing the role of James Bond in 2005, it was reported that along with his business partner, Beau St. Clair, through their Irish DreamTime production company, he would be producing a down-to-earth spy thriller based on Bill Granger's book series, called The November Man, focusing on one particular novel in the series titled There Are No Spies, with shooting scheduled to begin in 2006. The project, however, ended up either being cancelled or was put on hold in 2007, as there was no news or any sign of an action coming out of that direction. Still, Brosnan decided to keep the screen rights to the novel, which would permit him to produce the film adaptation of the book.
Eventually, in 2012, it was reported that Brosnan had the project resurrected and was put back on the trail with Dominic Cooper reportedly joining the production shortly after its announcement. In April 2013, whilst promoting his then-latest romantic comedy, Love Is All You Need, Brosnan told the media: "I am about to go off to Serbia and do my own spy movie. Finally I have the director I want in Roger Donaldson and we’re gonna do a piece called November Man so I shall jump back into that arena".
Brosnan revealed that Olga Kurylenko, who had a leading role in Quantum of Solace and the recent Oblivion, would co-star alongside him, commenting "I think there’s another room on the stage for another spy! Daniel [Craig] can’t have it all to himself. My co-star is a lovely actress called Olga Kurylenko, who seems to be going through leading men like hot dinners. She started with Daniel Craig and she’s gonna end up with Brosnan! She’s a gorgeous actress, beautiful woman. She’s in and it’s the older spy, younger spy". A month later, it was announced that shooting on the film would begin on 20 May 2013, with Luke Bracey and Bill Smitrovich joining the cast. Dominic Cooper, however, left the project to star in Need For Speed, and was replaced with Bracey in the role of the main character's protege. In June 2013, it was reported that Will Patton and Caterina Scorsone joined the cast, the former will be playing an old-school senior CIA operative while the latter is being described as "ambitious up-and-comer".
Principal photography began on May 20, 2013 in Belgrade, with Brosnan, Bracey, and many other supporting actors seen on site, but nothing particularly came out of the regular photographers and journalists, because it was moved away from public eye, and the sets were closed down for filming, guarded by tight security against all unauthorized personnel. In the original novel, Berlin was the main setting, but Brosnan stated that the production couldn't afford shooting there. Meanwhile, the second unit production team shot additional scenes in Montenegro locations posing as Switzerland. Olga Kurylenko joined the filming on June 2, 2013, and Brosnan was seen engaging in a firefight performance between goons during an action sequence. In late July 2013, cameras finally rolled off, as shooting on the film was completed. In September 2013, the film entered post-production status.
On December 3, 2013, it was announced that Marco Beltrami would be composing the soundtrack for the film. "I wanted to create a taut score incorporating a guitar theme with a slightly Eastern European meets Western motif befitting an action thriller about international espionage," said Beltrami. A soundtrack album was released by Varèse Sarabande on September 9, 2014.
Other songs featured in the film include:"Die This Way" by Storm Large
"Keep It Up" by Makao
"Gnossienne No. 3" by Erik Satie
"Ticking Bomb" by Aloe Blacc
The film was released on August 27, 2014. On June 6, 2014, the first trailer for the film was released worldwide. The seventh novel in the original book series, There Are No Spies, was republished as The November Man to promote the release. The film was released on Blu-ray on November 25, 2014.
The November Man grossed $25 million in North America and $7.5 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $32.6 million, against a budget of $15 million.
In its opening weekend the film grossed $7.9 million, finishing in 6th place at the box office.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 35%, based on 120 reviews, with an average rating of 4.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The November Man has a few of the ingredients necessary for a better-than-average spy thriller, making it all the more disappointing that it falls back on dull genre clichés." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 38 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Bilge Ebiri of Vulture wrote, "Brosnan, who was a better James Bond than he often gets credit for, doesn’t like to smile much, but he still brings a weary likability to a grim part, just enough to keep us invested as the movie trots through its gauntlet of familiar twists and double-crosses."
On June 12, 2014, it was revealed that Sriram Das' production company, Das Films, have commissioned a sequel to the film. On August 20, while on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Brosnan officially announced that a sequel was in progress, and Relativity Media would soon be entering pre-production.