From the very beginning of this film, it’s very clear that it is meant to simply be enjoyed. I can’t make this point any simpler. The perfect summer flick, The Man from U.N.C.L.E brings together the plot type and class from a Bond film, comedic elements from a Pink Panther film and the driving soundtrack of an amazing time period.
Because I hate reading, let alone writing, reviews in which the plot is detailed thus ruining any surprise or wonder for those choosing to read this before actually seeing The Man from U.N.C.L.E, I will be brief in setting up this film.
Set on the backdrop of the Berlin Wall being newly constructed and nuclear war a very imminent possibility between countries, both Russia and America’s best secret agents are tasked with working alongside one another in order to thwart mass scale death and destruction. Stop me if you’ve heard this plot before, but believe me, it is not a deterrent for someone to enjoy this movie.
Why? You might ask…….
Answer: Guy Ritchie.
Full Disclosure: I am a Guy Ritchie fan.
Sure, he has a very specific and divisive way of attacking a movie, but what director doesn’t? His brand just happens to fit into one of my favorite genres. Known for creating predominantly “inside” British movies, this time Ritchie tackles that of the spy world in the 1960s and he handles the task well. Realizing the plot isn’t the main focus, he chooses rather to thrust the look, feel and sound of that age upon the movie-goer. He even goes as far as having the time period influence his manner of editing by having moments of action resemble that of the television show from which the film is based from the 1960s.
One thing I have kept coming across upon my reading of other reviews has been the miscasting of Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer’s characters. To be honest, I just don’t see it. I think it’s sort of remarkable that you have a Brit playing an American (with a Mid-Atlantic accent) while you have an American play a Russian…and don’t get me started on the women from The Man from U.N.C.L.E (Australian playing a Brit…..a Swede playing a Brit playing a German). My head hurts just thinking about it. But honestly, it works. I’m happy that Cavill is trying to do other ventures than just a DC hero or gladiator. He’s attempting to do something different and I’m not about to take him to task for that. Hammer is in the same boat and I enjoyed him very much in his role as a stoic Russian. I’m not that naive and realize that this film serves as an “in-between” other major studio pictures, but they were not horribly miscast as others would lead you to believe. Let’s not get carried away with the leading men because as you should know by the trailers and build up to The Man from U.N.C.L.E it is really about the ladies.
Elizabeth Debicki does an excellent job of encapsulating a villain’s menacing qualities while still maintaining all that made women beautiful and alluring during that time. She has this cold stare that makes her appear extremely volatile yet very dangerous and I’d be lying if I said that at various points throughout the movie I kept trying to convince myself that she would turn good because I ultimately wanted to see her with Napolean (Henry Cavill). She is one that has little screen time but chooses to make the most of it. Ritchie shoots her in a way where you almost forget her dialogue due to how beautifully she is portrayed.
However, the real scene-stealer is Alicia Vikander. Most notably seen in the recent and underrated Ex Machina, Vikander is a force in every moment she’s onscreen. She’s able to pull of the playful, innocent yet fierce Gaby who is more than just a German mechanic. You can clearly tell that this is the type of movie to begin the conversation about her and she is probably just one more American film from being a huge star (either the Bradley Cooper, Burnt or the upcoming Bourne film). To me, that’s partly what made this a more enjoyable experience, knowing that I’m watching all of these stars that are about to break onto Hollywood. Granted, Cavill is well known, but really it’s just for one role and I’m hoping that he’ll branch out to more films like this rather than get painted into the superhero corner. But ladies and gentlemen………pay attention to Alicia Vikander. She’s not going away anytime soon.
I have included the three best songs (in my opinion) from this film. As you listen to them, I defy you to not like them or at least not tap your foot to their infectious sound. Trust me, Ritchie uses this very Euro-centric soundtrack to perfection and to the point it almost is a character itself. The soundtrack is a constant in setting the mood and rather than being a subtle behind-the-scenes operator it hits you right on the head almost commanding you how to feel and approach whatever scene it is leading you through.
- Laced Drinks (Betrayal Pt.II) – Daniel Pemberton
2. Take You Down – Daniel Pemberton
3. Jimmy, Renda-se – Tom Ze
I cannot stress this enough that The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a perfect end of summer watch. It doesn’t demand a lot from the viewer but rather simply asks you to sit back and enjoy what’s being presented in front of you. Of course it won’t win any oscars, break any box office records or even serve as a tentpole for any of the careers of the people involved. It will most definitely become an overplayed Saturday afternoon movie on FX in the very near future, but all of these things should not stop you from seeing it. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. a lot of fun with some surprisingly funny moments as well as really well done action sequences. There are no major complaints from me with this film. In fact, when it came along, it was just what I needed as a close of summer. Go see it. You won’t be upset you did.