The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (12a)
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer & Alicia Vikander
Running time: 116 min
In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.
Right from the opening WB logo (in stylish 60s print), The Man From U.N.C.L.E. clearly establishes the setting and tone of the movie. It’s 1963, the height of the Cold War and Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), American CIA Agent, is working on bringing a defector over the Berlin Wall. Illya Kurakin (Armie Hammer), Russian KGB Agent, is out to foil his plans. This mission is something that neither of them have expected and thrusts both their countries into a mutual co-operation to stop an even greater threat; an independent organisation creating their own nuclear bomb.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is all about style; from the period clothing, the immaculate cars, boats and even helicopters, everything on the screen shouts COOL! Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer portray the contrasting roles with great fun and thankfully both provide convincing enough accents.
The script is both period-esque and witty. There are plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments, backed up by Guy Ritchie’s now commonplace “what you see on screen is the full story” and the audience is suitably dazzled to ignore any little goofs.
The action, when it comes, is faster than Henry Cavill’s super-hero counter-part! There are screeching car chases around Berlin and boat chases in enclosed areas. There is punch, counter punch, hand-to-hand combat and also a shootout. The soundtrack is as cool as the ice cubes in the whiskey glasses, with period music missed in with more stylish compositions. All in all, it’s ticking many of the boxes that a high adventure action-drama-comedy should do.
Sadly, though this is not what the title says. The Movie title is The Man from U.N.C.L.E – a highly successful television show of the 1960s that was a tongue-in-cheek spy caper. This film version contains nothing from the television show bar three characters; Napoleon Solo, Illya Kurakin and Waverly.
Those who grew up watching repeats on television will be crying out for something they loved such as characters calling into their pens and speaking softly “Open Channel D”, or going through the secret door in the gent’s haberdashery store and walking through to the secret U.N.C.L.E. HQ. The movie doesn’t even use the iconic theme tune!
Worst of all, the acronym U.N.C.L.E is only used in the last seconds of the movie, though there is a constant reference to one of the key characters’ Uncle.
This is sadly another example of reboot that is trading on the name of the source material but ignoring anything that fans fell in love with. Guy Ritchie has certainly captured the essence, style and humour of the television show and for anyone who has never seen or heard of the show, they will be suitably impressed.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is an enjoyable 60s spy caper and is certainly a breath of fresh air when compared to other recent spy movies. But if you are going into the cinema expecting any relation to the television show bar the character names, you will be sorely disappointed.
Forgetting about the title – it.s 4 out of 5 Nerds
However, if you are a fan of the original series and desperately trying to find some kind of connection – 2 out of 5 Nerds