Film Review – The Man from U.N.C.L.E.


Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is carefully crafted to evoke nostalgia for old James Bond films and sixties spy movies, as well as the TV series on which it is based. It is rather a shame, therefore, to report that the results are so-so at best.

Viewers familiar with the characters so memorably inhabited by David McCallum and Robert Vaughn will perhaps struggle with seeing Arnie Hammer and Henry Cavill in the Ilya Kuryakin and Napoleon Solo roles respectively. These CIA/KGB rivals are forced to join forces against a mysterious criminal organisation that wishes to obtain nuclear weapons. Add to this volatile mix East German mechanic Gaby (Alicia Vikander), whose father worked as a Nazi scientist, ice cool villainous Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki), and the stage ought to be set for a really good blast of old school spy fun. But somehow all of this fails to congeal into anything above average.

It certainly looks fabulous, with glamorous use of Rome and Berlin locations. The opulent colour palette also evokes the spy movies of yesteryear, and Ritchie certainly seems to have a passion for the project. Yet the script is rarely thrilling, save for the opening, as Solo and Ilya clash during an attempt to smuggle Gaby out of East Berlin. The cast do reasonably well, but it is only the wonderful Vikander who really shines. That said, Hugh Grant pops up in a few scenes, and steals every one of them.

All things considered, this isn’t so much The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as The Meh from U.N.C.L.E. If you want a bit of spy action this summer, check out the superior Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation instead.

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3 Responses to Film Review – The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

  1. republibot3 says:

    This is the fear I had back at the start of the year. Yeah, making it a period piece is a good idea,but it didn’t look thrilling annnnnnnnnn it was supposed to come out six months ago. When is that kind of postponement ever a good idea?

    • simondillon says:

      Postponement is sometimes made if the market is overcrowded, and that can make sense. On the other hand, sometimes films are brought out earlier to avoid box office juggernauts (this summer Mission Impossible Rogue Nation was originally scheduled for December release, but was moved to avoid the new Star Wars film).

      • republibot3 says:

        Could be. The studio allegedly held back because they felt they had the possible tentpole of a new franchise, but I don’t think so, as the promotion hasn’t matched that kind of expectations. I think they just realized it was a clunker.

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