Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The-Man-from-UNCLE-Film-2015-600x388 Spy movies are all the rage these days with the Mission Impossible and the James Bond franchises hitting a continuous and successful strides as of late. Simultaneously, old television shows are being re-adapted into movies with moderate success. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. under the control of veteran director Guy Ritchie falls right in line with these trends and makes a fun action/spy flick that will likely go on to be a highly successful franchise.

Using the 1960s Cold War as a backdrop, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. tells the story of two opposing spies. One American, Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), and one Russian, Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). The beginning of the film finds Solo working to extract a woman, Gaby Teller (Alicia Vinkader) from East Germany while Kuryakin is in pursuit to stop him. The two are at the top of their game and prove to be quite formidable for one another. Solo wins the day, but it's short lived as the two elite spies are forced to partner under the orders of their home countries to take on a larger third villain.

Set off on a mission to take down a some international weapons bad guys (classic spy movie trope), we are given interactions from Solo and Kuryakin that are simply priceless. The two could not be more opposite and it works so damn well here. From interactions with one another to how the spies work undercover in their own mini individual outings are all pretty entertaining. The action is shot in a way that matches the tone of the time frame. Framed action pieces almost out of a pulp comic at times, and witty one liners from resident ladies’ man, Napoleon Solo. The movie makes no means to distance itself away from the style and charm of the original show, but it does forge its own path for future endeavors. We also get a good look at the swinging 60s and the general slickness that came with that time.

Gaby Teller is the final part to this international trio, and she helps play to the more innocent side of Kuryakin. A man who says few words but carries a big stick. The massive KGB agent is nothing to toy with and he seems to love the more brutal side of his job. Contrast that with Solo’s sometimes overuse of finesse and charm. The two characters were born to hate one another and in that they succeed. The overall plot of the film is a basic 1960s spy story with a few minor twists and turns but never overly complicated for mystery sake. The performance from Alicia Vikander as Gaby was underused in my opinion, but that notwithstanding she was a fun almost cypher for the audience to go along with in this world of backstabbing and treacherous behavior. Armie Hammer’s Illya Kuryakin was to me one of the big highlights of the film. Playing a very stoic and calculating character, while being able to emote enough to gain the audience's’ trust isn’t easy work. However, Hammer does just that. Henry Cavill’s Napoleon Solo is the perfect balance between cool and laugh out loud funny. While he never plays a jester's role, his actions are so cavalier at times that you can’t help but find humor in it all. The team of Cavill and Hammer is incredibly solid and if a franchise is to be made of this (I think it’s a good idea) their chemistry together will hold it in high favor without a doubt.

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