The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Directed by Guy Ritchie based on the TV Series
Stars Armie Hammer, Henry Cavill, Alicia Vikander
As glamourous as can be with “Super” action sequences and crackling dialogue, this adaptation of the 60’s TV spy series rocks hard.
It dares to be old school within its pre digital métier, paints broad loopy characters, results of happy comic book / Bond marriage and it doesn’t hurt that the three leads are drop dead gorgeous. Plus they wear swingin’ sixties clothes that recall ground breaking, neon colours and new structures, and we marvel.
Cavill, best known as Superman is granite-jawed, tailored to perfection and sexy, but his natural British accent doesn’t conform so well to the casual drawl of the “American” one he creates for CIA agent Napoleon Solo. Small quibble, this guy has “It” for days.
Perhaps another actor might be intimidated by Cavill’s otherworldly charms but not Armie Hammer. As KGB operative Ilya Kuryakin Hammer takes the brunt of the Cold War jokes manfully and he gets the girl. He’s more the tweed cap type.
Alicia Vikander of Ex-Machina and cat-like sensuality and beauty is the lynchpin uniting the two uber guys as they set out to find her father and a cache of nuclear weapons.
She and Solo meet cute in a Berlin chop shop. She’s a no-nonsense mechanic whose skills are put to good use in the near future to help save the world. But Solo’s trying to make sense of the shadowy figure following him and wondering if she’s one of “them”.
Solo and Kuryakin also meet cute in what amounts to a 60’s bromance. Spirited attempts to kill one another come to nought as they’re thrown together to partner in a cross-political secret scheme. Russia and America are wary and on edge, each with fingers poised over nuclear ON buttons and so are they boys.
Intelligence reports that mystery figures plan to set off warheads but no one’s sure who they are, Nazis, Americans, Russians, Brits. It’s a Cold War soup.
Whoever they are, they’re shadowing our boys and sometimes firing off shots at their pretty heads. Surveillance in the sixties was a different game, no security cameras, no GPS, no satellite gizmos. It was up close and personal in the real sense of the term.
There are primitive tracking devices, radar and heat detectors, human networks and plenty of pavement pounding. Its fifty years ago and unfamiliar and worlds away from the one we inhabit now.
But it’s just as intense. Ritchie dials up the tension in each successive sequence the way he did it so well in his earlier pictures and it is excruciating at certain points.
Not to give too much away but the trio finds itself on one of those billionaire boats and come across a large, blonde, icy Amazon with an itchy trigger finger. She may well carry the fate of the world in her precisely manicured hands.
Gaby (Vikander) is reunited with two family members on the boat – one of whom is a former concentration camp doctor / torture specialist and enthusiast, the other a good guy trapped in an evil situation.
And suddenly the Cold War is hot, hot, hot.
Ritchie’s playful, pop fizzy adventure is a delight on so many levels. His cinematic fillips include split screen action sequences, dazzling 60’s music, and the actual feel of a time long ago.
The vibe is enhanced by astounding and authentic art design, great architecture in exotic places, eye popping historical details and a pop world created just for fun.