The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a 2015 action comedy spy film directed by Guy Ritchie and co-written by Lionel Wilgram and Guy Ritchie, based on the 1964 TV series of the same name, which was created by Ian Fleming, Norman Felton and Sam Rolfe. The film stars Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Grant. In the 60s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB agent Illya Kuryakin unite for a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which works to create nuclear weapons. Thinking the entire time that it had a James Bond feel to it, I later discovered that Ian Fleming (creator of James bond) is one of the three who created the film’s original TV series. You know it’s going to be good if the director is well enough known for his selective and distinct films. Guy Ritchie is that kind of director, where you see his name and go, “Oh that guy! He’s made some interesting films!” Not so many, but the few that he did do, have all been successful and this film is no exception. A great cast, stunning cinematography and wardrobe, good action, excellent music and a subtle but brilliant sense of humor.
Let’s disect the cast. The choice of actors is important. Imagine if George Clooney had taken the role… It reminds me of Monuments Men and how bad I thought that was, or if Tom Cruise had decided to stay. It wouldn’t have been bad, and would have been a rise for Ritchie using an actor like that, but I believe the decision for “newer” actors was better. (Click here to view the casting choices, careful not to read the plot!) So we have Henry Cavill as CIA agent, Napoleon Solo. Good-looking, confident, and bold ladies’ man (sort of like James Bond) who cannot pull off a German accent. Besides his inability for languages, everything else about him in this film was great. Armie Hammer as KGB operative, Illya Kuryakin, was fun to watch. Handsome, correct, polite and humorless with rage issues and following “the Russian way.” I don’t want to spoil a scene for you, but you’ll understand what I mean by that if you watch it. It definitely made me laugh. Watching these two opposite men work together is a recipe for a comedy, and it worked beautifully. Alicia Vikander as Armie Hammer’s pretend wife: She was good and had a good chemistry with Hammer. Also, she CAN pull of a German accent. I knew she wasn’t German in real life but her speaking was fluent. I can’t say much about Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Grant… Well, the little amount of screentime he had, he was himself.
The cinematography and wardrobe were so well done for a 1960s-based theme. Europe in the 60s! So many times I thought, “wow what a great leather jacket,” and, “look at that suit!” And the lighting throughout the film was spectacular.
Something I just have to mention which I did not expect to see, was the humor. The subtle yet brilliant humor! The kind where something unexpected happens that ruins the character’s plan and instead of panicking, they just stand there with a face that says, “well that’s unfortunate,” and continues with their next move. Much of the excellent music score played during these moments, which gives the audience quite a chuckle, really appreciating the style of the film.
Overall, a successful would-watch-again comedy spy film centered around the early 1960s, and another success to the Guy Ritchie collection.
Thanks for reading my review!
– Nick Andersen