The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is based on the hit 1960s secret agent TV show that some parents probably enjoyed. However, now we have a glossy new film adaptation that is actually a good time at the movie theatre.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is directed by Guy Ritchie, who brought us great films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Sherlock Holmes, to name a few. U.N.C.L.E., which is an international counter espionage and law enforcement agency and stands for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, stars Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander and even Hugh Grant.
Set against a Cold War backdrop, Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) trades in his Superman spandex for a swanky suit as Napoleon Solo, a suave and American version of 007 James Bond (Bond creator Ian Fleming actually helped develop the original show). You are immediately sucked into the film as Solo drives recklessly through the streets of Berlin while being chased by a Russian Spy named Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer).
Eventually the two enemies are forced to work together in order to stop some former Nazis from putting together an atomic bomb. However, their plan needs a little bit of help, and so they rely on sexy car mechanic Gaby (Alicia Vikander), who has a father who just so happens to be the scientist who is working on the bomb. The big bad villain, who has employed Gaby’s father, is Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki).
So of course there are some twists and a secret missing but what I loved about this film is that it wasn’t too over the top. Sure it’s not Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, but this little spy film doesn’t need crazy gadgets and Tom Cruise (who was originally cast as Solo). Instead we get a spy film that is super stylized with some solid action and a little humour to boot.
The story flows by quickly and it keeps your interest from start to finish. It has a certain degree of smarminess without being grotesque. The chemistry between Cavill and Hammer is strong. Add a little bit of Swedish spice in the beautiful and talented Alicia Vikander, and what you get is a trio of characters who provide laughs, action and panache.
It would have been really easy to write in some sort of love triangle between the trio of hot characters, but instead the film stayed on point.
You may recognize Vikander from one of the year’s best films, Ex Machina (if you have not seen it, rent it on iTunes as it’s a must see). In my opinion, this is also one of Henry Cavill’s best performances. I loved his cadence and take on the role. It appeared he had a lot of fun playing the debonair but deadly Napolean Solo.
It’s funny because Cavill is very British but can put on an American accent that makes you forget that he is from England. Armie Hammer, meanwhile, is very American but does a great job as a Russian. Vikander is Swedish and puts on the British accent like it’s no big deal, but the only actor that I had a hard time with was Mad Men’s Jared Harris, who is British but his American accent was…too British?
I love Ritchie’s touch with this film. It was all 1960s stylization, with editing that came from that time period, playful split screens and a wonderful score with some fantastic source music from the likes of Roberta Flack, Ennio Morricone and Nina Simone. One of the things that was very evident was the use of colour and costumes. The clothing that was used was classy and a bit chic.
The renowned costume designer Joanna Johnston was the one that came up with the film’s fashion vision. Call it the Don Draper effect, but 1960s Mad Men clothing is all the rage, and this film is chock full of fantastic suits and dresses from that time period.
If you go online, you’ll read mixed reviews. I’m not sure what some critics were watching, but this is one of the best films of the summer. Why? Because it’s fun. Some think the story is too simple or cliché, but it’s not meant to be a complicated spy thriller.
Seriously, if you are going to the movie theatre, go and see The Man from U.N.C.L.E. because it has everything. You’ll love the action, the humour and the costumes.
Most of all, this is a revival project for Guy Ritchie, and I think that some reviewers just don’t like him so they trash on the film.
I loved it, and you will definitely leave the theatre wanting more. This is supposed to be the beginning of a franchise, and I hope that a sequel is in the works. With Mission Impossible going strong and a new Bond film on the way, there is a place for U.N.C.L.E. Let’s hope that Warner Brothers commissions a sequel.
Ignore the negative, stuffy reviewers and go and see it. I have no problems giving The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 4 raindrops out of five.