One of the better movies I’ve seen this year is The Man from U.N.C.L.E (abbreviation for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement)
The setting is 1963, in the city of Berlin.
We meet Napolean Solo (Henry Cavill) who abducts Gaby Teller, daughter of Udo Teller, who makes nuclear weapons. Chasing Solo is Illya Kuryakin, a KGB operative (played deliciously by Armie Hammer). In an intense and fun car chase and eventually escaping, Solo and Gaby make their way to Saunders, who in turns tell them that Teller’s uncle works for wealthy couple, who are also Nazi sympathizers, and intend to use Teller’s nuclear technology to destroy the world.
In effect then, the CIA and the KGB have to unite in order to prevent any end of the world disaster. This is where the fun starts as the American and the Russian are at odds with one another, yet are forced to work together.
Napolean, Illya and Gaby all move to Rome, where Illya and Gaby pretend to be a couple, in some of the more funny scenes as the two don’t get along with each other. From here onwards, it’s a battle to stop the enemy from blowing up the nuclear weapon as they encounter a myriad of characters and action set scenes. I won’t get into the story too much as it becomes more formulaic and predictable towards the end.
What sets this movie apart from a predictable story line are two things: Guy Ritchie and Armie Hammer.
Ritchie brings a very unique sense of action and adventure in the 1960s period movie, along with the right dollop of humor that works in the movie. Attention is paid to minute details, from the cityscape, to cars to wardrobes. It’s very entertaining to watch the odd couple, Solo and Illya, being forced to work together yet still at odds. Ritchie has done a great job in creating a wonderful movie that promises old school boy action stuff.
Playing the role of a KGB operative. Armie Hammer, is indeed a reveal. To perfect the accent and the body language of a Russian, the six foot plus actor brings such charm and vulnerability to the character, who also has anger management issues. It was a sheer delight to watch Armie Hammer.
The soundtrack, while enjoyable in the movie, didn’t stay too long in our minds after the movie was over (unlike the soundtrack for Guardians of the Galaxy or even Boyhood).
The Man from U.N.C.L.E is based on a TV show that was aired when I was probably wasn’t even born, and it’s good to watch a film that keeps everything simple (no fancy gadgets, no supersonic speed jets, no crazy high tech weapons like Ethan Hunt and James Bond indulge in!) which made for a refreshing change.
Let down by a slightly formulaic script, the movie is a stylish and classy one, helped by three charismatic and engaging leads, especially Hammer.
There is a cameo appearance by Hugh Grant, and boy, has he become old or what?
4 out of 5