Posted August 11, 2015 by editor in Film Reviews

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Review


The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  finally gets the big screen update that has been in the pipeline for such a long time. And thank god so many big releases of late have been a bit of a late down as this may afford this slick spy comedy the opportunity to sneak in and take the right amount of bank necessary to keep the name alive for a further feature.

Set post-WWII, Opposing agents Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavil) and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are forced to work together in a rather convoluted plot that teams them up with Gabby (Alicia Vikander), the daughter of a missing German scientist. They then set about infiltrating a group who may be responsible for some shady weapons manufacturing.

Overall it’s a fun if uneven experience. Perhaps sometimes the film diverts into bouts of character and forgets to deliver on the spy thrills, and likewise the film can also get lost in plot exposition dialogue and it forgets to deliver on character and laughs.

Cavil gets to start off in high gear delivering some effortless charm.  The midsection of the film is given way to Hammer (and its continually forced down our throats that he has a vicious temper) and Vikander as they build their relationship.

Hugh Grant is sadly left to the sidelines making fleeting appearances along the way before he really comes into play late on in the game. And even then he’s far too game and polite getting along with anyone to truly make much of an impression other than showing his famous face. You can see from His Performance why most “boss” characters tends to be antagonistic towards the hero as it creates onscreen chemistry, drama and even laughs which are all sadly devoid here.

As you can expect from pretty much every spy movie since the mid-1990s, there are twists and turns along the way. Double crosses and double double crosses that may have surprised us that long ago, but nowadays are expected. But it’s all still an enjoyable hoot watching it all unfurl. We might be more surprised these days if a spy movie were to simply play it straight with little to no twists along the way. Maybe then we can focus on the characters and the action and deliver it all at a tight running time.

What does help this film bounce along though is a terrific score (see separate review in our soundtrack section) which really supports what Guy Ritchie has put up on screen.

Speaking of the man, Ritchie has put a lot of love into this, but it hasn’t stretched many of his directorial muscles. Editorial and style-wise this is as we’d expect him to behave. It’s confident for sure, but we’re sure given a second go at the show they can all deliver something truly magnificent worth returning for.

All in all there is decent chemistry between the three leads, some evil-doers thrown in to battle and a pumping soundtrack to keep you entertained for two hours.

As a first stab at the material though, this is still an decent alternative which is proving the rule (that while comic book movies are taking a nose dive) that this is the year of the spy.

3 Stars





Steven Hurst