The Man From U.N.C.L.E.(2015)
- RatedPG13 /GenreAction, Adventure, Comedy
On the surface, doing a movie version of a hit TV show seems like blockbuster gold – especially if your movie is releasing in box office limbo that is September.
There’s already a huge fanbase, who will likely buy tickets to see their beloved characters make the jump from idiot box to the cinema.
Stick a few A-listers in the lead roles, and you’ve got a winner, right?
If you count out triumphs like ‘Mission Impossible’, ‘Miami Vice’ and ‘21 Jump Street’, there are duds like 1998’s campy ‘Avengers’ (no relation to the Marvel’s spandex-ed superteam) and the very ordinary ‘Get Smart’ (2008) when it comes to the spy genre.
Cavill and Alicia Vikander | Photo Warner Bros
But thankfully, Guy Ritchie’s remake of the popular 1960s spy series ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ delivers in spades – not bad for someone who doesn’t typically do blockbuster fare.
The camp of the ‘60s has been transformed into a ridiculously enjoyable spy caper directed with brio by Ritchie, who brings off the combination of action and tongue-in-cheek comedy.
In Ritchie’s remake, we see Henry Cavill as the bespoke-suited and very suave art-thief-turned CIA operative who after spiriting a very unbelievably beautiful German car mechanic Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) from East Berlin, is paired with a KGB agent Ilya Kuryakin (a roughly hewn Armie Hammer) for a potentially world-saving mission involving a missing nuclear scientist and Elizabeth Debicki’s billionaire villainess Victoria Vinciguerra.
What makes ‘U.N.C.L.E.’ a joy to watch is watching how the two spies from two different worlds – like oil and water – reluctantly collaborate for a common cause.
The story, penned by Ritchie and Lionel Wigram is kept light and nimble, but never missing the original series’ mix of intrigue and fun -- ‘James Bond-lite’ for those who think the 007 movies are getting too overly serious.
Cavill brings unflappable charm to the rakish Solo; with his lines as sharp as his suits. Cavill’s character juxtaposes perfectly with Hammer’s temperamental Russian spy, which the 28-year-old actor nails perfectly.
Cavill and Elizabeth Debicki | Photo: Warner Bros
Hammer also gets some awkward romantic moments with Vikander’s Gabby, who brings quiet strength to her role. But after watching her in the excellent ‘Ex Machina’ and ‘Testament of Youth’, she feels underused here, merely window-dressing to the bromance.
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Despite the slick pace and frenetic action, the twisting plot doesn’t do the film justice as some narrative points are glossed over and then inelegantly brought back. Ritchie and cinematographer John Mathieson seem too preocuppied with embuing the movie with a style akin to a men’s luxury magazine fashion shoot that they forget about the story.
There are flashes of brilliance like the one involving a high-speed boat chase that happens while Solo enjoys a bottle of chianti and a panini.
By the movie’s end, it’s clear that Ritchie is aiming for a franchise. We hope he does because who doesn’t like spy movies?
‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ opens 3 September 2015