A revival of the 1960s television show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. centers around rival secret agents Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) and a very 60s nuclear bomb plot.
Helmed by Guy Ritchie, the film has a distinctive and ultra-stylized look that thrusts the audience right into 1960s fashions and political intrigue. While the top-notch visuals are par for the course when it comes to Ritchie, its the underrated comedic timing that really comes to the forefront in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Hammer and Cavill, along with Alicia Vikander, who plays the daughter of a captive scientist, all have their moments to shine and have decent chemistry together. However, when they are apart, their performances feel a bit too stiff for a fun action adventure spy film. This is especially surprising to see in Vikander, a recent Oscar-winner. The word play between the characters, while well-written, ultimately leaves a bit to be desired when delivered by the actors.
While Hammer and Vikander's characters are sufficiently fleshed out and have full arcs, Cavill's character in particular is the least developed. Unfortunately, by films end, Napoleon Solo amounts to no more than an American James Bond without the interesting backstory and character issues.
While the plot is exciting and is packed with a few genuine surprises, the film moves so fast and looks so great that some details about the characters and their motivations are overshadowed. As a result, the multiple villains in the film never seem truly threatening. Dramatic tension when it comes to the political climate is never fully realized, and for a plot with a ticking clock, the stakes of a world on the brink of nuclear war never seem to have weight.
Where The Man from U.N.C.L.E. shines is in its visual comedy. There are two particular moments in the film, one involving and electric chair and another involving a boat and panini that are laugh-out-loud funny to watch. Ritchie often juxtaposes two different tones in the same scene and to hilarious effect.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is definitely a case where the style overshadows the substance, but the style is so fun to watch that the film doesn't seem to drag. It is a slick, stylish, but ultimately weightless spy romp through beautiful European locales. It won't give the Bond franchise or Mission: Impossible films a run for their money, but nevertheless, it is an enjoyable watch that flew under the radar in 2015.Our Rating: Rent