Writer/director Guy Ritchie’s abilities have ripened well with age. While Snatch remains his masterpiece, his latest adventure, the “adapted” Man From UNCLE, shows how consistent he has gotten and how finely he has crafted his movie making ways. The film lays into you like a cool jazz tune. You may not think it was made for you, but you will smile and enjoy it.
Before I tell you the particulars, let’s take a brief moment to discuss the plot. Napoleon Solo(Henry Cavill, sleek, suave and muscled) is the CIA’s best agent/spy and he must join forces with a stern Russian KGB tank(Armie Hammer, not sucking for once) in order to track down some hot dame’s uncle, who supposedly knows the wherabouts to some nuclear warheads. Enough with the dull stuff. What worked?
The cast is aces. Cavill proves here he is more than a superhero, putting the “S” in suave. From the moment we see this handsome devil in a suit walking towards customs with a “I’m cool and you are not” glare, this much is known. When Cavill retires the cape, he will have his hands full with work. Maybe play someone called 007. Who knows? His future is bright and Solo proves he has some range to play with.
This is the first time I liked Hammer in anything, who up until this flick was only suited to play a piece of cardboard that moved and talked. Lone Ranger? Vomit. J. Edgar? Lost. Here, playing a fighting machine yet vulnerable man with a few secrets of his own, Hammer gets to unleash a little personality and displays a pretty decent Russian tongue. He shouldn’t join a Moscow steam room anytime soon, but he acquits himself well here. In other words, he didn’t stink up the joint.
The beautiful woman who makes the men run in circles here is Alicia Vikander, and if you weren’t paying attention earlier this year, she was the sophisticated robot in Ex Machina. Here, she toys with Hammer’s Prom King sledge hammer and trades barbs with Cavill’s slick agent like she’s been playing in the British Embassy cool school for years. If you didn’t know her name before this film, you will now. She joins Rogue Nation’s Rebecca Ferguson in the “pay attention to me now” train of thought.
The soundtrack is money here, perfectly placing in blues, jazz and hipster knee rattling tracks that never let the action overwhelm or the pace slow down too fast. You may want to get a hold of Daniel Pemberton’s wise guy score that never stops beating your ears up with easy joy.
Ritchie and Lionel Wigram’s script has enough historical reference(Russians, Americans, Nuclear warheads, the 1960’s) to mix in with its wild banging martini of an action flick that clears credibility by a few nose hairs.
The action is ripped from a comic book but has just enough realism to keep you from rolling your eyes. If James Bond had a sense of humor, he’d live in this world. And yes, you are not mistaken…that is Hugh Grant acting again and doing it quite well here as the one of the top suits playing these men of action like he has a remote control in his hand.
Ritchie doesn’t break any new ground here, but he crafted a fine action adventure with a tongue in cheek attitude about it. It’s like he mixed a few spices together that hadn’t been put together before and most of it tasted good. If you don’t take it too seriously or expect to be blown away, Man from U.N.C.L.E. may just put a smile on your face.
I know I’ll be in line for a sequel if these make believe jokers work together again.