It’s premature to say that The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is one of the best films of the summer, but it’s safe to say that it is one of the funnest. Having never seen the show the movie is based on, I went into this film without any expectations. But I suppose with so many spy movies out this year (Kingsman: The Secret Service, and later this year Spectre) Guy Ritchie takes the best of the spy world and the buddy cop world and turns it into a film with a simple plot that is sexy, sophisticated, with good action and a sense of humor.
CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is extremely good at his job. Suave and handsome to boot, Solo (not to be confused with Han from Star Wars) is on the east side of the Berlin Wall where he’s looking for a mechanic named Gaby (Alicia Vikander). On a job, Solo asks Gaby to help him infiltrate a criminal organization under the radar who is trying to get their hands on nuclear weapons to destabilize the very fragile balance in post-war Europe in the 1960s. Gaby can help Solo get to the organization faster because the CIA believes Gaby’s uncle Rudi (Sylvester Groth) and the deceiving Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki). Enter uptight KGB operative Ilya (Armie Hammer), who is partnered with Solo to finish the mission and things start to get interesting.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. often times doesn’t even feel like a Guy Ritchie movie because its style and feel is different from his previous films. The film looks and feels very 1960s with its costumes, hairdos, and atmosphere. The dialogue is witty and fun and the action sequences that happen in the background while another character is front and center doing something completely different plays for great laughs. The bright lighting also creates an atmosphere of lightheartedness even if the plot is to bring a nuclear weapons plan to a stop.
Henry Cavill, best known for his role as Superman in 2013’s Man of Steel, is cool as a cucumber. His lines are delivered with a dry sense of humor and if you’re not quick on the uptake, then chances are you’ve already missed the joke. Armie Hammer (his towering height of 6’5″ actually makes Cavill look small, which is impressive) is serious as Russian spy Ilya. He speaks dryly and eloquently and has the Russian accent down pretty well. He and Cavill have strong onscreen chemistry as opposing spy buddies who come to reluctantly like and even (gasp!) respect each other. They both can also give deadpan line deliveries. Alicia Vikander is, for the most part, an equal player in the entire plan and balances out a lot of the testosterone-fueled scenes with wit and teasing. Even Hugh Grant’s minor role is effective and important enough to not be considered a cameo.
Ultimately, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. isn’t at all a bad way to spend your time at the theater. Your money won’t be wasted and you’ll be more than entertained by intriguing characters, spy gadgets, and character camaraderie. Guy Ritchie infuses his film with lavishness and style without ever making the film more complicated than it should be. Although the plot is simple, it is made to look like there’s more going on because Ritchie alternates between scenes and creates split screens if the characters are in different places so as to heighten the action, and this most definitely works. A highly stylized and entertaining spy film worth seeing.
Release Date: August 14, 2015 | Director: Guy Ritchie | Screenwriters: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Vigram | Cast: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Sylvester Groth, Hugh Grant, Jared Harris | Genre: Action, Adventure | MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence, some suggestive content, and partial nudity