0392 | The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The-Man-from-U.N.C.L.E.-2015-WallpapersThis light, breezy comedy-thriller by Guy Ritchie doesn’t have all that much in common with its TV show predecessor, other than the basic conceit of uniting an American CIA agent and a Russian KGB operative as a Cold War odd couple, but it does an effective enough job as an origin story; such films are ten-a-penny these days, and this is no less deserving of a franchise than anything else out there, but moderate success at the box office earlier this year may well put the brakes on a mooted sequel actually being made. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer star as the charismatic Napoleon Solo and the reserved Illya Kuryakin respectively, and the pair share plenty of easy chemistry on screen, where both characters make clear their mistrust and misgivings while also displaying a childlike desperation to impress the opposite number; Ritchie’s screenplay imbues their awkward professional relationship with a slight homoerotic edge, but rather than anything serious it would have been a welcome surprise to see openly gay heroes in a mainstream action film, for once – this is all firmly in keeping with the tone of the film and is established through comic innuendo. Sadly I guess anything beyond that might put some people off, even in this day and age, so we’ll have to wait for another director to go for it. There are no risks taken with the plot, either. Rather than getting bogged down in the nitty gritty of the deals and political wranglings on either side of the Iron Curtain, Ritchie moves the pair on from gloomy Berlin to a caper in the dolce vita of mid-’60s Rome at a fairly early stage, and the latter setting informs the film’s style: all sharp suits, men in speedboats, swanky event flirtations, Cinecittà strings and swish hotel rooms. Joining in the fun are Alicia Vikander, who plays a mechanic tied to a family of Nazi-sympathisers-stroke-nuclear-weapons-enthusiasts, and Hugh Grant, who Hugh Grants his way through a minor role as a besuited British spy chief. The emphasis is on fun and froth, as with Ritchie’s previous brace of Sherlock Holmes films, and all told he makes a good fist of it. If your expectations are low you will probably be entertained: the story is as plain as they come but The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is all about the eye candy, while the soundtrack jumps very tastefully from soul (Roberta Flack, Solomon Burke) to sweeping, grandiose Italian period scores and the set pieces are laced with good humour.

Directed by: Guy Ritchie.
Written by: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram (screenplay), Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Jeff Kleeman, David C. Wilson (story). Based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. by Ian Fleming, Norman Felton and Sam Rolfe.
Starring: Armie Hammer, Henry Cavill, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris.
Cinematography: John Mathieson.
Editing: James Herbert.
Music:
Daniel Pemberton, Various.
Certificate:
12A.
Running Time:
116 minutes.
Year:
2015.

Comments 10

  1. Tom October 31, 2015

    Yup can’t argue with this one man. I definitely enjoyed myself while recognizing it as a fairly standard spy outing with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek. I’d take this Guy Ritchie over ‘Swept Away’-Guy Ritchie any day of the week!

    • Stu October 31, 2015

      It’s sort of inoffensive, isn’t it? Like expensive beige wallpaper: pricey, but still just beige wallpaper at the end of the day. I was in the mood for something light, so quite glad I watched it. Luckily I seem to have missed all the dross Ritchie turned out while he was with Madonna!

    • Stu November 5, 2015

      Meh is the word! It’s exactly what you expect it to be. Ritchie is a fairly dull filmmaker but it’s hard to muster up enough willpower to take him to task over it.

  2. Todd Benefiel November 6, 2015

    Well, I’m not a fan of Ritchie, or the two leads, or the preview trailer…soooo, maybe I’ll just enjoy your review and call it a day.

    And what the freak is going on here? One-paragraph reviews, a new blog theme, no more little circles with faces in them. Good lord, I get sick for a few days, and all hell breaks loose!

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