Film Review “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

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First, the Recap:

World War II is over. As the aftermath is being dealt with over the next several decades, we enter into the early 1960’s and what was know as The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. With spies from both countries on task all over the world in attempts to gain secrets and have a leg up on the other, we enter said world via one of the CIA’s top agents, Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill). A former thief and womanizer, Solo finds himself on task in West Germany to assist a woman, Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), to defect. However, the Americans are not the only party interested in her. Enter the former KGB agent and all-around hot tempered Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer).

Initially in complete conflict with each other, the two battle it out to keep the hold on Teller until an unexpected turn of events occurs, thanks in part to both men’s immediate bosses, that forces them all to team up to prevent an corrupt and unscrupulous organization lead by Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki) from creating and subsequently utilizing a nuclear bomb. Struggling to get over their inherent mistrust and decidedly different approaches to the spy game, Solo and Kuryakin bring to bear all their skills and poise to search out and undermine Vinciguerra’s plot, even as their own agendas and the questionable allegiance of Teller put things at risk. Because when you’re in the spy game, nothing can be left to chance.

Next, my Mind:

Let’s face it, the spy genre in film has most certainly had a long and storied history, whether for good or ill.  There are prime examples like “Spy Game” and the recent, Daniel Craig-led James Bond films, but there was also the tediousness of efforts like “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “The Tailor of Panama”.  Fortunately, this film version of the classic 1960’s TV show benefits greatly thanks to the involvement of writer/director Guy Ritchie, who’s excellent offerings such as “Snatch” and the “Sherlock Holmes” films readily prepared him to tackle this tale of two wayward and reluctantly paired spies. Using his usual focus on characters and their individual quirks and style, Ritchie is able to capture both the action and humor needed for this outing.

Cavill and Hammer are quite perfectly matched here as our two lead spies. Hammer’s portrayal of Kuryakin as the ice-cold, hard-edged agent with anger issues plays superbly off of Cavill’s straight-laced, by-the-books, suave lady-killer Solo and the banter between the two is very engaging, accurately illustrating the animosity and mutual hesitations of working together in both serious confrontations as well as comedic moments. Likewise, Vikander’s Gaby is the ideal foil for both men, especially when they so readily seem to trust her more than each other, even though she might be playing them both. Debicki makes for the classic femme fatale, and supporting turns by Hugh Grant and Jared Harris are welcome additions.

While this reviewer cannot subscribe to the notion one publication stated in advising this film “gives Bond a run for its money”, Ritchie’s unique touch and the wonderful chemistry of this cast assist in making “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” one to watch.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!




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