This update movie version of the 60’s TV show comes to us from Guy Ritchie who brought us films such as Snatch and the most recent Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr. Which means, this film has the same slick style the others do only with a little less Guy Ritchie-ness of his other work. Some of his slick devices are there such as some of the start-stop slo-motion style he’s known for along with some music video elements, but the film isn’t as heavy with those devices as some of his other work. Regardless, he was a good choice to polish up this re-introduction of the series…
The plot is basically the origin story for how the team comes together. Although built with the idea of more films being produced in the franchise (at least I’m guessing that was the intent), I’m not so sure the box office take it had will warrant any other future installments. The story revolves around 2 agents from opposing sides (the US and Russia) and a woman at the center of a conflict that is pulling everyone together. It should be mentioned that the film is set in the 60s which was at a time when the US and Russia were on different sides of the fence and not getting along too well. As a result, there is some tension in the beginning with the agents that plays out nicely while their characters are being established. As for the script and how things play out, it’s not very surprising but it is overall satisfying.
Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer play the 2 spies that bang heads (kind of like an Odd Couple version of spies). Cavill’s character being the more suave, lady-killer James Bond type while Hammer is the crazy loose cannon. Together, their chemistry seems to work most of the time although there were moments I felt like there was a bit of a stretch in terms of natural interactions. Cavill is the weaker link of both actors here, most of the time he’s pretty tight with his delivery but there are times I felt he was forcing it and not coming off as naturally as he could have. The surprise for me was Armie Hammer who manages to keep his Russian accent intact while still delivering a consistent, intense portrayal of his character. It’s nice to see he has more range than I gave him credit for initially. The rest of the cast includes: NAME, NAME, NAME
Effects and production-wise, the film is great to look at with exotic locales, a modern yet true to the 60s aesthetic, along with authentic clothing, vehicles and sets that line up with the era nicely. The pacing is a little sluggish at times but for the most part moves pretty well to the conclusion. I can’t say the film lines up with the brilliance of a film like Skyfall, but as far as spy films go, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is fairly enjoyable and entertaining.
reviewed by Sean McKnight