Movie Review: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

Bottom Line: Wants to be a good movie but doesn’t quite get there.  One bad casting choice.  Decent premise and fun, light action.

I have no recollections of watching “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” reruns as a child even though I remember it being on and absolutely loving “The Avengers” (no not THOSE Avengers) reruns.  This means I really didn’t know much about the premise of the show going into the movie besides the fact that it was one of many spy shows from the 60s and my mom liked it.

The movie version is an origin story.  Set in the post-World War II era when the Cold War was just getting started, it follows he of the best spy name ever, Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) as he is sent on a mission to rescue Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) from East Berlin before Russian spy Ilya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) gets to her.  Gaby is the daughter of a German nuclear scientist who recently turned up after being AWOL for years and both the U.S. and Russia want their hands on him.  All three end up having to team up to find the man after it is discovered that a shadowy organization plans to use his nuclear knowledge for their own devices.

This is a Guy Ritchie film and it shows.  Very stylistic.  Very cool.  Very nonchalant.  This works out pretty well except for Henry Cavill.  At time, Cavill pulls it off nicely.  Like when he stops for a snack break inside a truck while his unwilling partner, Ilya, is chased by guards only to step in and save him in the nick of time.  At other times, Cavill is king of off-putting.  It has something to do with his voice more than his mannerisms, I think.  He never quite strikes that devil-may-care attitude with his talk.  It was, at times, hard to get past.

The movie ends with a very obvious sequel setup as the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement is formed.  What a mouthful.  We’ll stick with U.N.C.L.E.  Sadly, I do not foresee a sequel in this franchise’s future.  It did pretty poorly at the box office.  That’s kind of a shame as the whole premise for it is quite good.  You have the whole East/West tension thing going on.  Plus each of the main characters are interesting in their own right to be able to dig some good stories out of them.  It’s also nice to have a spy movie that obviously doesn’t take itself too seriously without being silly.  Oh well.

You will like this film if: You like light spy action films.  You have nostalgia for the TV show.  You like Guy Richie-style movies.  You enjoy caper-ish plots.

You will not like this film if: You dislike Henry Cavill.  You think any sign of cooperation between the U.S. and Russia is a sign of the imminent destruction of democracy.  You think spy films should be serious as sin.