Hi everyone, Bryan Here….
The latest Hollywood remake to hit theaters is the hit tv show from the mid-60’s ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.‘, which lasted four seasons and was partially developed by Ian Fleming just as the James Bond franchise was taking off. If you were alive during the mid-60s, you would have known that this ‘U.N.C.L.E.‘ television series was one of the best things on tv at the time, as it centered on an American spy and a Russian spy, working together to take out the bad guys in a very 007 kind of way.
Cut to present day and we have director Guy Ritchie (‘Snatch‘, ‘Sherlock Holmes I & II‘), delivering his version of the television show for the big screen. It’s a rather enjoyable and fun film to watch, however it never can find a steady beat nor plant its roots in a cohesive manner like the last couple ‘Mission Impossible‘ films have done. Even though the film runs just under two hours, it feels longer than 120 minutes, which is a problem Ritchie has had in the past with his ‘Sherlock‘ films.
The American spy in question is Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), who is a suave womanizer and also excellent at his job, who has been tasked or shall I say forced by his boss (Jared Harris) to find Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), a beautiful auto mechanic whose long lost father was a former nazi who might be helping the wrong people develop a nuclear warhead. Set in the 60s as well, Solo uses these vintage gadgets and cars to get around Europe, which is sure fun to watch as he finds Gaby, only to have Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), the Russian spy with psychotic episodes that cause him to wreak havoc on anyone and anything near him, try and capture Gaby for himself and his boss, which ensues in a fairly excellent car chase that is similar to something we would have seen in ‘Sin City‘.
This sets the stage for Kuryakin and Solo to one up another and “cordially” meet, as their bosses force them to set aside their differences and work together on finding the people who are hiring Gaby’s father to make the the nuclear weapon. The people in question can stand aside the best of the Bond villains as well, as they each have their one unique fashion statement or “skill” that sets them above the rest. This all sounds like quite the fun movie, right? Like I said before, this film is enjoyable, but there are some pacing and character problems to deal with in between the good moments.
There are a few slow scenes that seemed like they could have been left on the cutting room floor, mostly with Gaby’s character, who really is only there to be beautiful, which is unfortunate, because her character could have done so much more. Then there is the relationship and banter with both Solo and Kuryakin, which is mostly top notch, however Kuryakin’s character is the more introverted character here and tends to stick to only business, when his character shouldn’t 100% of the time.
Cavill, who also plays ‘Superman‘, does a great job of balancing the two personalities and is quite the comic relief most of the time with his dry wit and quips centered at Kuryakin. I only wish Armie Hammer had more to work with here, but when the two spies start insulting one another, it makes for good entertainment. Ritchie does a decent job with his iconic direction here as well, as he sets up the action sequences with a ‘24‘ style split screen on crack, complete with fun titles, zooms, and twists of the camera. It’s classic Guy Ritchie filmmaking, along with a killer soundtrack. I don’t think ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.‘ will be able to compete with ‘Mission Impossible 5‘ financially or critically, but it’s still enjoyable fun to see these two on screen. So much so, that I hope to see them again, which is of course Warner Bros.’s goal to make this a franchise. That being said, I don’t see that happening any time soon.
– Bryan Kluger