The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: From East Germany With Love, by Rudie Obias
The words “Directed by Guy Ritchie” can be a real mixed bag when you’re entering a movie theater. In the past, his take on the crime genre with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch can be very refreshing when the genre itself can be stale. On the other hand, his sense of style can bog down a movie, as it did with RocknRolla and his take on Sherlock Holmes. Guy Ritchie takes on the spy genre with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement), but this time around he makes things very slick and super stylized, but doesn’t have the same eye for detail with pacing and scripting.
The film follows Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), a CIA agent who travels to East Germany at the height of the Cold War during the early 60s. He sent there to find Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), a German mechanic and the daughter of a brilliant scientist on the brink of discovering a new way to make nuclear weapons. Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) is a KGB agent who is tasked with the same mission, but for the Russians instead of the Americans. After an impressive opening action sequence, Solo and Kuryakin are forced to join forces to stop a mysterious international criminal organization led by Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki), who kidnapped Gaby’s father. The result is a lot of globetrotting, sex, action, and loads and loads of style.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is the film adaptation of the popular TV show from the 60s. Admittedly, I have never watched a single episode of the TV show, so I can’t speak to how it holds up to the original. Going into the film, I really wasn’t expecting much considering my history with Guy Ritchie films, so after I left the theater, I found myself pleasantly surprised how delightful and charming it is, despite its issues with pacing. The film’s running time is just under two hours, but there are moments that felt like it could’ve been tighter. It’s not that it becomes heavy or overly dramatic, but it’s just that each scene seems to go on longer than it should, which seems like it’s a good excuse for Ritchie to show the film’s 1960s period style. While the film is gorgeous to experience, it could’ve been served with some more focus.
The film is oozing with slick 1960s style and fashion, which is at all times cool and sexy. The cast is impossibly attractive with Henry Cavill’s chiseled good looks, Armie Hammer’s height and strong jawline, and Alicia Vikander’s flirty and playful attitude. Elizabeth Debicki is also very beautiful and devilishly sexy. Guy Ritchie takes those beautiful faces and wraps them in expensive and stylish clothing, accessories, and jewelry. Make no mistake about it, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is one of the best dressed movies of the year!
Henry Cavill has some really good comedic chops and a natural instinct for timing and delivery, a side of the actor we’re not used to seeing, having recently seemed trapped in Zack Snyder’s humorless and bleak world with Man of Steel and the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Armie Hammer plays a good straight man to Cavill’s wild and free spirit. Alicia Vikander is mysterious and charming. And honestly, I’d really like to see all three of them back for a sequel, which this movie naturally leaves it open to possibility.
It seems that 2015 is the year of the spy with movies like Kingsman: The Secret Service, Spy, and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. We even have Spectre to look forward to at the end of the year. Although it doesn’t completely accomplish its mission, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. fits in with the pack as a lighthearted, charming, and stylish take on the spy genre.