I don’t know what I expected when I sat down in the movie theatre, but The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Directed by Guy Ritchie) delivered something great. The film is set in the 1960s in the midst of the Cold War and follows a Russian and American spy with an amusing rivalry who are forced to work together and a bright British mechanic who’s father the spies are trying to get to.
The film hits the ground running—literally—with a well-executed chase scene. From there things only got better. The characters were amiable, not to mention attractive (and white-washed, but what more can you expect from a Hollywood spy film). The choreography was believable and executed flawlessly (as far as I could tell). The creativity of the action sequences added enormous entertainment value and each sequence was memorable in its own way, especially when paired with witty dialogue and humorous circumstances.
Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill make a great team both as spies and as actors, and I loved Alicia Vikander as fun, loveable Gaby. I’d like to personally thank the scriptwriters for making her character more than a pretty face, which with Alicia’s face, would have been very easy. Sometimes it was hard to think of these characters as real people. They were too perfect-looking and perfect-sounding (hell, especially Henry’s accent). And what kind of name is Napoleon Solo? But it never took too long for me to be pulled back into the story despite all of that.
A special nod must be made to the editing and effects teams. Not only were the transitions cool and reminiscent of 60s spy films, but the montages themselves were memorable for the editing and effects, as well as a soundtrack that enhanced the feel of the film and still sounded modern.
Whether the plot itself was good depends on who’s watching. Nothing out of the ordinary for a spy movie, in fact probably on the better side of spy plots nowadays. However, the story was told in a zig-zag fashion, by which I mean there would be hints at things as we went along, and then later we’d go back and see what all the hints were and what they led to before moving forward again. I have no problem with the zig-zag storytelling, in fact I quite enjoy it in shows like Sherlock or other films but here the clues and hints were the one thing this film did badly.
Frankly, they were too obvious. I can understand wanting just enough hints for audiences to smack their foreheads when watching the film a second or third time, but these clues might as well have been in neon. I didn’t need an instant replay to tell me what I missed because I didn’t miss anything, and I doubt anyone who wasn’t wearing earplugs and a blindfold did.
In conclusion, I just want to say that I know there are spy films left and right nowadays. They’re even more common than superhero films, and this worries me because the excessive spy films will probably mean this one is looked over, which would be a shame. Despite other films having perhaps bigger budgets, bigger explosions, and bigger stars, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is well-worth watching. If not for the action and drama, then for every twist and turn, every ironic comment and clever comeback, every crazy edit, every interesting female character, and every handsome white guy with a superiority complex.
P.S. I’m not familiar with the television show, but I’m sure there are many references for those who are.