The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Review

The likely lads from Uncle

Guy Ritchie has his own style.  He’s not one of your generic Alan Taylor, Gareth Edwards, it-could-be-anybody kind of directors. He deserves each film to have the appendage ‘A Guy Ritchie Film.’ Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is simply a matter of opinion.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is certainly a Guy Ritchie film. From the pulsing soundtrack to the unusual editing to the stylishly crafted but somewhat shallow characters: this has Guy Ritchie written all over it.

Set in the sixties, the story follows slick CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and headstrong KGB man Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), two former rivals who must team up to stop Italian Neo-Nazis from creating a hydrogen bomb.

For a plot with such Mission Impossible levels of ludicrous, it’s not surprising U.N.C.L.E. was once a Tom Cruise pet project.

It’s also no small feat that when the film ends, you wish you could spend more time in its world and with its the characters. With Cavill exerting the perfect mixture of cockiness, charm and (oddly enough) decency, he’s a long way from the Man of Steel’s dourness and lack of wit. Hammer, who literally looks like a man of steel, also delivers a weird concoction, underscoring his bulldozing brute with a hint of vulnerability, somewhat of a romantic.

As a pair these two have great chemistry, and as a threesome with Alicia Vikander (no, not in that way) they are simply too fun to resist.

Vikander is one of those names that I assume people just brush past, not trying to properly pronounce it, possibly dismissing her as that Swedish girl who sounds British. Well, it’s time to learn her name because along with this, she’s in about ten other films this year and no doubt she’s great in all of them (except Seventh Son).

Alicia Vikander: one to watch, not for the future, but right now.

Ritchie delivers everything with his own flavour of flamboyance and panache. Action scenes are loud and fast, stylishly crafted pieces of cinema. While other action films settle for the boring Bourne ‘blur-edit-punch?-shake-blur’ crap cam style, Ritchie’s flare for innovatively structuring his scenes are a welcome reprieve. Plus, even when it’s out of action-mode, the rich and slick-as-you-like sixties setting is simply intoxicating.

The clothes, the cars, the music: to have been alive back then must’ve been excellent (he says, wearing rose-tinted glasses).

However, the surface delights of the film are about as deep as it goes. There’s no real emotional heft, no layered character studies, no social commentary.

And the film is all the better for it.

While other films of this ilk reach for some emotional depth and fail (Marvel movies, for one), The Man From U.N.C.L.E. doesn’t purport to be anything other than what it is: a loud, brash, charming piece of entertainment.

Thoroughly enjoyable, sensibly senseless, and one of the only films that leaves you actually wanting a sequel rather than simply having one rammed down your throat.

Still not sure who the Man From U.N.C.L.E is, though…


Rían Smith

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