Saturday, 27 February 2016

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Out now on Blu-Ray and DVD, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is Guy Ritchie’s latest project, based on the ‘60s spy TV show of the same name. Generally when I watch a Ritchie film I’m excited, but left feeling like something was lacking – fortunately for TMFU, it was a whole lot different this time round. I decided to approach the reboot without seeing the original series, and so can’t compare the two, but felt rather satisfied looking at it as an independent film.

Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), CIA agent of the ’60s, finds himself working alongside Illya Kuryakin, opposing Russian KGB agent, and Gaby Teller, daughter of the alleged Nazi scientist Udo Teller, to prevent a criminal organisation from harnessing the information needed to create their own nuclear bomb. With Solo’s smoothness, Kuryakin’s anger issues, and Teller’s unexpected bouts of feistiness, we see the three of them try to cooperate throughout the mission, despite each having their own separate agenda.

I’m going to be frank here – the plot isn’t all that great. It works, and it’s enough to make you want to watch it, but it’s the not the key feature of the film. The tone is playful throughout, and so realism doesn’t necessarily make much of an impact – although it still makes great viewing. What really draws you in is the dynamics between the main characters as they struggle to work together. The script is incredibly witty, and there’s a great chemistry there that just makes each scene fun in its own way. Unfortunately, it’s so impactful that scenes where only one main character appear seem to be lacking, but this isn’t too much of an issue.  Elizabeth Debicki played an excellent villain as Victoria Vinciguerra, and Hugh Grant also performs well as Waverley (for once he’s not playing an arrogant love rat, which is rather refreshing).

Solo is an undeniably smooth character that fits well with the style and, although I was worried about how Cavill might do in this role (I just can’t help seeing Superman when I look at him), he actually pulled it off exceptionally well. In particular, his constant feud with Kurykin from start to finish adds to the hilarity of the overall film – there wasn’t one scene where one wasn’t trying to one-up the other, and so there also wasn’t one scene where it wasn’t amusing to watch. I don’t think there was one main star either – all three of the main characters brought their own elements to the film, and so were as enjoyable to watch as each other.

The filming is well thought out and the editing particular really stands out – it’s got a real ‘60s vibe to it. Perhaps they went overboard with the idealism of the era, but it fits in well with the light-hearted tone. It’s stylised and fast-paced, with a vintage score that adds to the overall feel. One thing I really enjoyed was how thought out the action scenes were – the viewer gets to witness several different vehicle chases and a variety of different character fights. Each one is original and clever, and so I found myself enjoying these much more than the regurgitated action scenes from the more anticipated Spectre. As with many ‘60s style features, some scenes can be a little cheesy, which in turn adds a bit of predictability, but generally they all flow together quite seamlessly.

The film ended just as I wanted it to and hinted at a sequel, but this has yet to be confirmed. Although the not so fulfilling plot might mean this movie isn’t for everyone, one thing is for sure – if Ritchie does make another, I’ll be straight there to watch it.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. gets a 4/5.


Hannah Read

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. at CeX

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