Friday, August 14

REVIEW: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Directed by Guy Ritchie
2015 Action Comedy
1 hour, 54 minutes
From Warner Bros.

Henry Cavill
Armie Hammer
Alicia Vikander
Elizabeth Debicki
Luca Calvani
Jared Harris
Hugh Grant

You may recall when I reviewed Cinderella that I mentioned seeing this poster in the lobby and that I drooled and stumbled all the way to the car.  Well, the big day was today and we were there for the first matinee.  Frankly, I know why I wanted to see it and it has nothing to do with the re-tooled story of the 1960s Robert Vaughn-David McCallum TV show.  What I didn't know was whether I would review it because I anticipated that it might be kinda routine and full of been there-done that.

Well, I am reviewing as you can see and the reason why is because it was better than I anticipated.  Yeah, it is a bit routine (perhaps thinking of it as a pair of Bonds, James Bonds, isn't entirely out of line) but I never expected the humor... wry, sly, cocky, sexy.

Of course what was etched in my brain from that one Cinderella day is that Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer are the stars.  Newman and Redford once dazzled the public in two fine films and the hoopla raised over that pairing should happen again.  Here are the new kings of gorgeous.  I dare say the only actor confident enough to share a scene with Henry Cavill would be Armie Hammer, and vice-versa.  Let it be said, too, that someone way back when in the casting phase had exactly the same idea... put these two in a film together, and a fun one, no less, and there should be some jing-jing-jingling at the box office.  I hope so.

We have a Brit playing American CIA agent Napoleon Solo and an American playing the Russia KGB agent Illya Kuryakin and these two actors have a glorious chemistry together.  The time period is the early 60s and they come together as uneasy allies out to foil an attempt of a criminal element to get its hands on nuclear weapons.  Of course there's a good girl, a bad girl, chases galore and surprisingly very little romance (ok, sex) for this type of film.

For Guy Ritchie fans, this may be a treat.  It's a little off the beaten path of most of his films, more commercial for sure, but it has a few of his usual directorial stamps... the wicked humor, especially during action sequences, the high-speed photography and a man or men who seem indestructible.  I think remembering that Ritchie is behind this (he also co-wrote it) makes it a bit more enjoyable.

At its heart, it's a buddy film, reluctant though they may be.  With actors this handsome, there's a fair amount of posing but I found that to be expected... and in my case, appreciated.  Cavill looks sizzling in a suit, the hair, the cheekbones and that voice... they're all there for your gazing pleasure.  He is such an elegant-looking actor, the charm oozes.  I was surprised and pleased with how tough Hammer was as Illya... his career has seemed to me to be a little prone toward nice-guy-itis so the change is welcomed.

The ending of it makes it patently obvious that a sequel or slew of sequels is anticipated.  If the box office is good, it probably will happen.  And that makes me sad.  I think both of these actors could rise in stature and fans if they landed in better films... work that asked more of them than being pretty.  Still, I'm not whining about the pretty.  Hammer, of course, should have been pleased to have been a part of The Social Network and J. Edgar, but the way to live down The Lone Ranger is certainly not to make The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The same could be said of Cavill who seems to be stuck in fantasy films.  The second Superman is in the can and a couple more are baking.  To me he's got the makings of being today's Cary Grant but he has to appear in better films.  Let's start with another remake of An Affair to Remember?  If he can act... I can hope.

When all's said and done, it was an enjoyable, humor-laced, eye-candied two hours.  Thanks, guys.

Next posting:
A Good 40s Film


  1. A good movie and good in some surprising ways.

  2. witty & urbane are implied...I remember the TV show & loved it! (I almost tore David McCallum's shirt off during an appearance at Edgewater Amusement Park in Detroit back in those days!) Anyhow, the reviews are good, so I may have to see it!