Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander
Director: Guy Ritchie
Running Time: 116 mins
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is an American film about an American and Soviet agent who, despite going head-to-head on numerous occasions in and around the Berlin Wall, are forced to join together to bring down a former Nazi who has acquired the technology to create a nuclear weapon.
This is a really cool film. Although it’s perhaps not the greatest espionage thriller of all time, it’s clear from the start that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is trying to be a throwback to good old Cold War spy movies, with tension and thrills mixed in with campy humour and effortlessly stylish and suave characters.
And that’s where we’ll start off, with the performances, the suavest part of the whole movie. Again, given that the story isn’t so enthralling on a deeper, character-based level, it makes a big difference that the actors all put in a great show to make their characters as entertaining, likable and convincing as possible.
The lead trio, Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander are all huge fun to watch from start to finish. If there were ever any evidence for Cavill being the next James Bond, then it’s this massively cool performance as effectively the same character, a dashing and agile spy who’s still not without his many, many weaknesses.
What’s more is that Cavill works brilliantly on screen with his main co-star, Armie Hammer. The film’s story is a set-up for a light-hearted take on the differences between the US and the Soviet Union, exaggerating Cavill’s confidence and character as the US agent, while heightening the robotic and brutalistic element of Hammer’s intense Soviet agent. As a result, there’s something fantastic repartee throughout the movie, and Hammer does an extra good job at bringing about some great humour in deadpan style from his colder character.
Alicia Vikander also impresses as the woman who becomes caught up in the whole mission, proving fantastically stylish and confident from beginning to end, and doing her enigmatic character a real justice, making what would seem like some more ludicrous twists feel almost entirely convincing.
Moving on, I have to say that Guy Ritchie also does an excellent job directing this film. It’s a fun-loving parody of Bond, Harry Palmer and the Cold War spy genre at every moment, yet it retains its own degree of genuine style and class, with sublime cinematography working in tandem with Ritchie’s confident and bold direction throughout, making The Man From U.N.C.L.E. a hugely entertaining watch in its own right.
Now, when it comes to the plot, things aren’t quite so impressive. Although there’s nothing particularly poor about the plot here, it’s not one to really get you on the edge of your seat. Its high-stakes antics that feature a whole heap of crazy tropes (including that old ‘the Nazis are returning but this time it’s nuclear’ chestnut), make it a real joy to watch, which is clearly the film’s main objective, but as for being a proper espionage movie, it doesn’t quite make the grade.
On the whole, I had a lot of fun with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. It’s a hugely stylish, confident and entertaining film from start to finish, and although it may not have the world’s most thrilling plot, it proves a lot of fun thanks to strong performances and directing throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3.