The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is Smart, Playful and Highly Entertaining
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Screenplay by: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram
Story by: Jeff Kleeman,David Campbell Wilson, Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram
Based on: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. by Sam Rolfe
Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris, Hugh Grant
Running time 116 minutes
Rated PG-13 for action violence, some suggestive content, and partial nudity
During the height of the 1960’s cold war, Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is a master thief turned secret agent under the thumb of the C.I.A. In lieu of prison owing to his unique skill set. After liberating Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) from East Berlin, and narrowly escaping capture by his rival, KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), Agent Solo is begrudgingly teamed up with agent Kuryakin to set-up an international criminal organization from getting their hands on the most powerful nuclear weapon known to man. To do this, they must go undercover with Gabby, whose father is the physicist that has developed a new uranium enrichment process.
The second action/spy/comedy film of the year may not be as strong a comedy as Kingsmen was, but it is a much stronger action and spy film, which should, if there is any justice, launch a new franchise. This film is a reboot of the classic television series from the 1960s and Guy Ritchie successfully captured that the feel of that era of campy spy film without being campy. Being a Guy Ritchie film he imparted his particularly energetic style to the film giving every frame life. The energy exploding from the screen is not all thanks to Ritchie, a great deal of credit must also go to Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, and Alicia Vikander who all had so much chemistry on screen that it was very possible the movie could begin a fusion reaction. While this is not physically possible I think you understand what I’m trying to say, they were all very good together. Snappy filmmaking and annoyingly charismatic and loveable cast aside this film succeeds in having a smart story to propel the rival spies toward incredibly exciting and hilarious shenanigans. This is a model example of a film that is fully successful at being a fun and fully serious action film that never took itself too seriously, or stepped into the parody in reaching for a quick joke.
To return to the stellar cast, the Cavill and Hammer may be one of the best on-screen couples I have seen this year. Cavill brought a very cool and ennobled air to the character of Napoleon Solo, which played perfectly against the cold and reserved, slightly unstable, Illya Kuryakin, Hammer played. It’s like the Odd Couple, if Oscar and Felix were secret agents in an international spy agency attempting to thwart a radical terrorist group from destroying the world, while annoying each other. I wonder how much Guy Ritchie, and Lionel Wigram studied Neil Simon before writing this screenplay. Consciously or not, they managed to capture the essence of the odd couple he created in 1965, in a much more exciting way. You would have to be a damn dirty commie to not love this film.