The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Review

“Oh, and you have a new code name, a rather good one.”


 

“America teaming up with Russia, that doesn’t sound very friendly”

Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), Man From U.N.C.L.E

2015 has been a big year for spy thrillers and secret agents, most notably the comedic ones. Matthew Vaugh’s homage to James Bond, Kingsman: The Secret Service kicked off this year’s trend and it was soon followed by Paul Feig’s third collaboration with Melissa McCarthy in the female-fronted Bond parody Spy.kingsman-the-secret-service-images-hd

The seemingly coincidental thematic quasi-trilogy is completed by Mr Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is Guy Ritchie’s 2015 big screen adaptation of the mid-1960s TV series of the same name, and his first film since 2011’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows.

TMFU was unusual in the 1960s for the fact that its lead characters, the crime fighting team of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuriyakin, were American and Russian, respectively, but worked together in a time when America and Russia were enemies. For people back then, this must have conjured up real feelings of unease and social tension, and the 2015 film does a great job approximating cultural enmity between these two superpowers within the film and balances it with great banter and light-hearted humour throughout.

The original Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuriyakin

The original Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuriyakin

The humour is delivered and the clichés are acknowledged with a wink and a nudge by the star-studded cast, which includes Henry Cavill (Man of Steel), Armie Hammer (Lone Ranger), Alicia Vikander (like, everything this year), Jared Harris (Mad Men) and Hugh Grant, who all hit exactly the right notes while simultaneously playing the roles relatively straight.

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So, want to see hot people looking cool in the most stylish of clothes in addition to being hot? The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is the film for you.
Henry Cavill stars as criminal-turned-highly-successful CIAgent Napoleon Solo, alongside Armie Hammer’s KGBeast Illya Kuriyakin, in Guy Ritchie’s stylish, funny and cool big-screen spy thriller.

The two leading men are individually very believable in their roles; I totally believe Henry Cavill as gentleman spy and a womaniser, equally, I buy Armie Hammer as a towering obelisk of strength and a stiff Soviet sociopath.

Together, as the joint leads of the film, with their deadpan comedic delivery and convincingly tenuous loyalty to each other, they really pop in a film that would, otherwise be gratuitous in its style-over-substance approach. Ritchie is like a budget Tarantino.

This may be a problem, the film is at 100% the whole time; it’s too stylish, the dialogue is too perfect and the whole thing too caught up in the (admittedly authentic looking) 60s aesthetic and, as a result, the plot feels secondary to the eye candy – be it the cast, the cars or the sets.
It looks great, the cinematography is on point and it looks like ‘Mad Men’ with guns but, unlike ‘Mad Men’, the story lacks depth.

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I see literally no difference. Mad Men leading man Jon Hamm was even considered for the role of Napoleon Solo

To the best of my recollection, the Handsome duo of Suave-Guy Solo and Cool-Guy Kuriyakin have to stop a striking (but annoying) blonde, evil genius (but not really) woman from blowing up the world. Or Something.

It’s enjoyable. Go see it


Genre: Action / Spy / Comedy

Age Rating: 12a

Runtime: 116 Mins

Film Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

So what do you think? Have a think and let us know in the comments section below.


– Mat S

 

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