<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Guy Ritchie. Starring Armie Hammer, Henry Cavill, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris, Sylvester Groth, Luca Calvani, Misha Kuznetsov, Hugh Grant
Lots of flair, interesting camera work and wit still don’t make up for an incoherent plot and some forced acting.
I’m old enough to remember the original TV series on which The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is based on. But what’s really sad is that Hollywood has run out of ideas and needs to borrow from old TV shows. Most of the time these movie rehashes are only similar to the original classic shows in the names of the characters and some of the plot devices they use. What they fail to capture is the ethos and personality of those shows. That’s exactly the case with this film.
Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), an American secret service agent teams up with a Soviet spy called Illya Kuryakin (Army Hammer) and Gaby (Alicia Vikander), a German girl who will help them infiltrate an organisation that is building a nuclear bomb. All this takes place during the cold war era but while director Guy Ritchie captures the look and feel of the 1960s with costumes and set design, he fails to give you a true insight into the prevailing zeitgeist.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. comes across more as a comedic buddy movie than a spy thriller. There’s lots of bonding between Kuryakin and Solo just like in Ritchie’s new Sherlock Holmes movies where Holmes and Watson also share a bromance of sorts. While there’s a lot of funny dialogue, the rest of the writing seems a bit forced and affected, especially when performed by the two male leads who aren’t the most talented actors in the world, but who do give it their best shot. They’re very good looking though and that does help. Henry Cavill will soon be seen in the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice film (a new trailer precedes this film) where he will have more action and less dialogue.
And what on earth Hugh Grant, as a spy boss, is doing in this film we never quite figure out. Alicia Vikander manages to make her character sexy and playful. Sylvester Groth as Uncle Rudi, the psycho German torturer, is wickedly fun to watch. A few scenes like the one where Solo is in a truck sipping wine while in the background Kuryakin is in a boat being chased by the bad guys are done particularly brilliantly, but again, it’s a little chuckle and then you’re back to boring.
There are times in the film you’ll yawn and wonder why they dragged it out; you’ll even forget what they’re actually doing. Ritchie’s slick editing and camera work as well as they witty banter carry The Man From U.N.C.L.E. from dull to moderately entertaining fare. At the end, the film is more show than substance, which is sad.