Official Film Synopsis: “Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” centers on CIA agent Solo and KGB agent Kuryakin. Forced to put aside longstanding hostilities, the two team up on a joint mission to stop a mysterious international criminal organization, which is bent on destabilizing the fragile balance of power through the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology. The duo’s only lead is the daughter of a vanished German scientist, who is the key to infiltrating the criminal organization, and they must race against time to find him and prevent a worldwide catastrophe.”
“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is a film reboot of television show from the 60’s. Some of you may have known that, but most of you probably didn’t. I, myself, haven’t seen very many episodes of that show, because it just wasn’t ever really on my radar. When it comes to reruns, I’ve always been more of a “Twilight Zone” / “A-Team” kind of fella.
What I appreciate about this reboot, is that it keeps the same era. With all the modern reinvention of old movies and TV shows, it’s nice that writer/director Guy Richie (Sherlock Holmes, Snatch) kept the 1960’s as the backdrop for this story. Everything about it is just so stylish and retro. It takes you back to a time when James Bond was a smooth super-spy, and the bigger a lady’s glasses were, the hotter she was. The biggest part of that “smooth” quality comes from Henry Cavill. He does an absolutely brilliant job as criminal turned CIA operative, Napoleon Solo. Dare I say… This might be my favorite performance of his ever. This character doesn’t have some deep emotional range or anything, but he’s not supposed to. He’s charismatic and relentlessly charming, and it’s nice to see Cavill can not only pull that off, but he can own the role like nobody else could’ve.
Balancing out Cavill’s smooth-talking, Globe-trotting Solo, is Armie Hammer as the stoic and high-principled KGB Agent, Illya Kuryakin. Much like Cavill’s Solo being a departure from what we usually see him do, Illya is just as much of a change of pace from what we usually see from Hammer. He’s a very determined soldier-type who follows orders to a tee. There’s no gray area with this guy. Everything is black or white. He’s also incredibly strong, which Hammer’s towering height and wide frame lend to making believable. You know what? I’ll go out on a limb and this might also be my favorite role of Hammer’s ever as well. He was just very commanding in a role that could’ve easily taken a backseat to Cavill’s and that impressed me.
There are plenty of great performances from the supporting cast as well. Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) steals much of the film as Gaby Teller, the willful and capable young woman that Solo and Illya need help from on their mission. Another great performance comes from Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby) as the sophisticated and devious villain, Victoria Vinciguerra.
The best surprise though was definitely Hugh Grant as the British Intelligence operative who brings the team together. I mean, come on… it’s Hugh Grant. Hugh Grant is one of those actors who’s always on, and is never the reason a movie he’s in is bad. His role here is just so perfectly Hugh Grant-like.
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way so we can move on… The plot was a tad predictable. I’m not complaining that it was predictable, I’m just stating what I found to be a fact. There were twists that I thought to myself, “Oh this is gonna happen…”, and then that thing happened. But admittedly, there were things that I thought weren’t going to happen that did so… 50/50?
One of the best things about the film, besides the perfect casting, was the humor. Guy Ritchie does dry comedy/action better than anyone. Honestly, he pretty much has the market cornered on the specific genre. This movie is full of small chuckle jokes as well as laugh-out-loud scenes. One of my favorite scenes in the whole movie is when Solo and Illya are arguing over women’s fashion. Seriously. It kind of comes out of nowhere and the fact that Hammer’s Illya doesn’t even remotely seem like the kind of guy who would arguing over such a topic makes it so much funnier.
The summer box-office is winding down. We’re gonna start settling back into out infrequent and sporadic attendance of movies until next May rolls around. It’s likely that this flick won’t generate the same kind of buzz that it would have had it come out, say, in June-ish, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a watch. “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” has a lot to like. It has some great action sequences, clever humor, and fantastic performances. If you want ti see a movie this weekend, and “Straight Outta Compton” isn’t quite your thing, then I highly recommend you check this out. It’s also a great date movie. Get some pizza, maybe a drink or two, and take your “HELLOOOOOO NURSE!” to see “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”