The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Director: Guy Ritchie
I’m a sucker for a good spy movie, especially one that incorporates well-executed jokes with spot-on timing. Such is the case with The Man from U.N.C.L.E., seriously one of the most entertaining movies I’ve seen in quite a while.
Set in 1960s Europe, U.N.C.L.E. has enough suavity and glamour to make you forget about the frost of the Cold War creeping in from every angle. It’s a fact that has pissed off more than a few earnest comrades out there, but anyone who caught a glimpse of the trailer for this Guy Ritchie flick shouldn’t have expected anything more. Laden with enough witty one-liners, out-there scenarios and winged eyeliner to last a lifetime, it more so just happens to be set in the ’60s than really be fixated around the serious aspects of the era.
If you weren’t aware, Ritchie adapted the screenplay from an NBC series that ran from 1964 to 1968. If you’re like me and had never heard of the show until your dad told you about it, then it’s kind of difficult to compare and contrast interpretations.
Still, here’s a basic premise for you: An American CIA agent (Henry Cavill) rescues gorgeous East German female mechanic (Alicia Vikander) from inevitable harm due to her dad’s knowledge of atomic bombs. Russian KGB agent (Armie Hammer) follows in hot — and armed — pursuit. CIA and KGB bosses soon inform agents they’ll be working together to retrieve the mechanic’s dad and recover the layman’s nuclear arms recipe from an evil Italian couple before they destroy the world.
It’s reminiscent of an over-the-top Brosnan-era Bond film but with enough slickness to wax an Aston Martin. This movie kind of came out of left field; no one was expecting it, no one asked for it, and millennials certainly weren’t familiar with the TV series. Ritchie really had nothing to lose, so he just went for it, and it works.
The chemistry between leads Cavill and Hammer is palpable and pretty top-notch, though it’s fully served with a wink and a smile (at one point they argue over whether a Paco Rabone belt goes with a Dior dress). They let us in on the joke, one-upping each other so often that I half-expected it all to end in a pissing contest. Each scene drips in sarcasm; Hammer’s Russian accent is forced but hilarious, and Cavill comes off as a long-lost relative of Patrick Bateman.
It ran a bit long for what really turned out to be a comedy, but even so, the visuals and double entendres and physical comedy kept me entertained. With the way it ended, I’m betting you can fully expect a sequel in the next couple of years — something I’m definitely OK with.