Movie Review: ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’August 23, 2015 at 7:55 am | Posted in Movies, Reviews | 2 Comments
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was an old television series than ran in the 60’s way before my time. That said, I was aware of the show as well as the lead actor in the series, Robert Vaughn. Flash forward to now, and director Guy Ritchie presents a new take on the series with an origin film showing something the television show never did: how did these characters meet? The result is a gorgeous looking film that’s a lot of fun. It’s part spy movie, part con flick and even a little rom-com.
The movie stars Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander. The three of them work together perfectly in the film creating an entertaining trio as they bounce off each other and utilize their collective talent for the missions before them. Henry Cavill comes off his stint as Superman to play a role that fits seamlessly into the world of the old 60’s tv actors. His voice may sound a little stilted to some viewers, but I think it’s a fun nod to actors of that generation. It adds to the atmosphere and the character. Once you get over the voice, his charm and competence comes into play for a con man who is not to be underestimated but is never short of a good joke. Hammer, on the other hand, may be best known for his role as the Lone Ranger, for better or worse, but I think he’s done a great job in this film as the slightly psychotic KGB agent. He’s got a temper but he’s very useful and hard to stop. Rounding out the main cast is Alicia Vikander who was the robot in Ex Machina. Going from eerie artificial construct to a German mechanic swept up in a hunt for an ex-Nazi rocket scientist, she makes the switch beautifully, bringing lots of humor and life to the character.
The plot of the film is basically a CIA agent and a KGB agent work together with the daughter of a rocket scientist to find her ex-Nazi father who may be building a nuclear bomb for a third party. Both agencies want to keep that bomb out of other people’s hands. As can be expected, Cavill and Hammer’s characters clash as they are forced to work together. Vikander’s character is the water break between them, keeping them together and pushing them forward. The chemistry between the characters provides most of the fun of the film as they joke, fight and perplex each other. If you’ve seen a Guy Ritchie film, you know what to expect. Personally, I love his work with characters and I think he does a great job here.
That said, one thing that really stood out to me with this movie is the lighting of the scenes. It’s not something that generally jumps out at you, but the scenery in this movie was absolutely gorgeous. From the framing of the shots to just the set decoration, each one is exquisitely lit to create visuals that leap of the screen. Some of it was just short of mesmerizing. There are scenes where the sun bleeds in, shots at night with an old building cast in stunning gold light from street lamps, and others where it just feels like a something that should be a painting. It’s a visual splendor at times.
On the other hand, Guy Ritchie does some of his more experimental work by filming outside the box. Or more appropriately, within a whole bunch of boxes. Some of the action shots in the film get split off into separate boxes so at one time you’ll have a bunch of scenes going on all at once as the screen is split up. While this has been done before, I’m not sure anyone has ever taken as far as this. Sometimes the screen gets really crowded with boxes. On the big screen, it sorta works. It’s different, it’s kinda neat, and you can still follow along with what’s happening. I think part of it is atmospheric as it feels like something you might get in a tv show. On that other hand, though, I think this could be really bad when you try to watch it on a small screen as those tiny boxes might be too small to see what’s going on.
All in all, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a film worth checking out. It’s fun, entertaining and packs in some nice character work, story and action. I give it a four out of five metal bikinis.