Movie Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E
There is always excitement when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. For example: the Cold War and the brinkmanship of the United States and Soviet Union in their ideological face off. So if you grab a highly trained top spy from each side of the iron curtain and force them to work together towards a common goal, you should have an exhilarating film on your hands.
Enter The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is an ex-soldier with light fingers who began relieving others of valuable art pieces for great personal profit after World War II. However, he is eventually arrested and shipped back to the U.S to stand trial. Seeing jail time as a waste of much evident talent, the CIA recruits him instead, blackmailing him to be a spy for them.
On the red side, Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) is a not-so-gentle giant who was recruited into the KGB after his father’s shameful failure forces his son to atone for his sins.
After a brief clash in East Germany, the 2 spies are forced to meet again when their respective supervisors task them to infiltrate and stop a secret Nazi group’s nuclear bomb threat – together.
We must profess our love for the whole feel of the film. We’ve got a soft spot for slick hair, dapper suits, suave demeanours and 60’s garb. We love the scene where 2 special agents argue about women’s fashion in a high street boutique as they pick out disguises for an asset. It feels like a classic Bond film, with outlandish gadgets, tailored suits, womanizing and fast talking.
Solo’s clipped American accent and methodical, almost whimsical tactics are a stark constant to Kuryakin’s psychotic rages and raw physical prowess. The duo’s work dynamic provide much of the film’s tension, and the complementary nature of the 2 supremely capable spies slowly becomes clear, as they begrudgingly rely on one other. Of course, that doesn’t stop them from participating in banter and comparing each nation’s clandestine arsenal of gadgets.
Hammer as Kuryakin was definitely a highlight of the film. We’re used to Cavill as the calm hero from Man of Steel but Hammer’s portrayal of the haunted Russian agent with a dark past is enchanting. You can hear the conviction in Hammer’s voice as Kuryakin as he tries to live up to expectations. There is also immense charm with the soviet giant’s gentle touch when interacting with Gabriella Teller (Alicia Vikander), a mechanic who got roped into the operations.
As with all spy films, there is always the “unexpected” plot twist and flourished reveal of a double agent of some description. Sadly, the plot twist in The Man From U.N.C.L.E was very expected – one of Solo and Kuryakin’s supposed ally is actually a British spy. We shan’t give away who but it’s not that hard to guess during the film.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E also snoops in a phenomenal and different soundtrack by Daniel Pemberten of peppy blues numbers to go with the high octane chases and actions on screen. We definitely preferred this throwback to the 60s over Mission Impossible’s iconic theme.
But despite the sleek and slick, The Man From U.N.C.L.E doesn’t quite wow. It has strong appeal with the pairing of kleptomaniac American spy with psychotic Russian agent but it’s not enough. Nonetheless, it’s still an entertaining watch with plenty of stunning moments, but don’t expect a lasting impact.
Release Date: September 3
Runtime: 116 minutes
Genre: Action, Comedy, Spy
Director: Guy Ritchie
Main Actors: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander. Hugh Grant, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris