An international spy story with a fun blend of action and comedy that results in mild enjoyment.
“THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.” stars Henry Cavill as CIA agent Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, two men from different countries who must work together to stop a criminal organization looking to create their own nuclear weapons during the 1960’s Cold War.
This film was based off the 60’s television show of the same name and for that aspect I felt this one did a good job of working off the source material. Director Guy Ritchie certainly created the feel of the era and captured the mood of an international Cold War spy world. With some of the settings, wardrobes and an excellent soundtrack, the film does a convincing job of pulling you into the time-period.
The problem for me was, while it did feel like a throwback plot to a traditional spy film, the story-line of this one was very generic and took much too long to tell itself. It was the old, there is bad people with bombs and spies must stop them to save the world, nothing new. As I said, it felt like something for the time-period, but the way it played out in this script was honestly kind of boring at times. The strongest thing this film had going for it was its comedic factor in my opinion and it would have much more entertaining had the script focused more on that element.
Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer were both solid, they worked well off one another, showed strong chemistry and for the most part much of the comedic dialogue in the screenplay work effectively. Cavill was the true star of the film, he felt every bit the part of the sarcastic, womanizing playboy CIA agent that despite his glossy exterior still had a set of values. Hammer was also convincing, although at times when the film wanted to take a more serious turn it was often at the expense of his character creating some awkward moments that simply did not land effectively.
The film throughout gives off a pure lighthearted feel and when it tries to be serious not only do you not want it to, but the way it tries to swing into the more serious tone does not work well at all. It did not feel like a lack of focus on the tone, but ill attempts to hit a range of emotions for the audience when really the action and comedy was more than enough. Plus the added run-time this creates makes the story drag out too much and creates some long lulls in the pace that do hinder the enjoyment.
Alicia Vikander was also very good in the role of Gaby, although again her placement in the film was the result of some generic story-telling, nonetheless she makes it work. She works well with both Cavill and Hammer and together the trio was good enough to create a group of characters that passed the time. Guy Ritchie gave this rather ordinary film a fun visual flair and it adds enjoyment during many scenes, with great orchestration and camerawork. However, there were some action sequences that could have been shot much better with some wider angles and abandoning the all too trendy shaky-cam technique.
In the end “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” was a fun film that did manage to entertain. It also unfortunately left a good amount of potential unfulfilled. The score was excellent and the soundtrack overall was amazing, but when that element is the most memorable part of a film, it is telling of the full package the movie delivers. Guy Ritchie made a creative film out of a generic plot and unfortunately he tried to fit too much into this one and should have shortened it a bit and focused on the comedy. The writing was clever and the dialogue landed and it would have made this a much better movie had it remained the focus. Overall though this one is not a waste of time, it certainly has it moments and if you are looking for something from the 60’s era, the spy world, or an action-comedy then you will find some enjoyment in it.
– Starring –
Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant, Jared Harris, Elizabeth Debicki, Luca Calvani, Sylvester Groth
– Directed By –
Time: 116 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For action violence, some suggestive content and partial nudity)