Humour is a welcome ingredient in any well written script. It may not be appropriate for every film, but in the case of the blockbuster, it’s a nice way of letting the audience know the movie isn’t taking itself too seriously. While some directors often miss or overlook this element, Guy Ritchie focuses heavily on it. He develops scenes that provide us with an opportunity for humour, even at the expense of the moment. His latest film, the adapted from a TV show The Man From UNCLE had many delightful moments of well-timed comedy among other scenes where it was unnecessary and fell short. However, I appreciated this film and what it was trying to accomplish.
During the 1960s CIA Agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KRB Agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) have to work together on a dangerous mission. The pair must stop an international yet mysterious crime organization trying to destabilize the sensitive balance of power through proliferation of nuclear technology and weapons. The daughter of a missing German scientist (Alicia Vikkander) is their only hope to infiltrate the organization. As is the case with all thrillers, they must all move rapidly to prevent a world-wide disaster. This is a well made spy story that keeps you engaged for most of the film. The plot is strong enough to hold your attention throughout despite some scenes that drag on or don’t feel completely necessary to the overall movement of the plot. Having said that, the film sets up everything to the point where you don’t have to be at all familiar with the TV series to understand what is happening. Thankfully, since I’m pretty sure the audience this movie is being marketed to wasn’t even born at the time the series was on air.
The actors for the most part are well casted. The highlight of the film is the villainous Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki). Her wardrobes are incredibly eye catching and emphasize a kind of take-charge confidence that she exudes through most of the film. The onscreen chemistry between Solo and Illya work well because of their back and forth banter, which shows a dysfunctional relationship combined with comradery. It is also an element that isn’t as fully developed as much as I would have liked, since we only get a small inkling of what their “frenemie” relationship would be like. But maybe that’s because the film was trying to stay away from the Ride Along crowd. Henry Cavill stole much of the show with his handsome good looks and charming personality. His counterpart Armie Hammer also had many moments to shine as well.
There was a great picturesque quality that made you feel like you were looking at a post card. The story takes you to Berlin and Rome with beautiful shots of green scenery as well as towns. A long sequence of shots happening in real time was well thought out. Thus, the film was definitely entertaining throughout.
But as with most movies that are simply made for nothing more than audience entertainment, it lacks substance and will ultimately be forgotten before the year’s end. The Man From UNCLE. is the movie equivalent of blowing a bubble into the air. It’s shiny and fun while it’s in the air but once it bursts, it’s all about faded from memory. I’d recommend the film to anyone who enjoys spy thrillers mixed with a tinge of humour. This isn’t anywhere in the same league as Guy Ritchie’s Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or even Rock N Rolla, but it is a fitting addition to the summer line up. It even has a decent instrumental soundtrack. The nature of the film is fun and like all summer films it leaves an option for a sequel. So grab your popcorn and have a good time.