Guy Ritchie’s new take on the ’60s spy show “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” is such an odd film that I don’t quite know what to make of it.
The original television series was a little before my time so I can’t speak as to whether Ritchie was faithful to the source material. What I took away from the film version is that it was very stylish with charming, attractive leads. But it’s also somewhat slow. I’m not entirely solid on the details of the plot as I kept nodding off during the first half.
Henry Cavill stars as Napoleon Solo, a former master thief turned secret agent. He’s teamed up with Russian agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to find a missing German scientist who may hold the key to nuclear disaster. The key to finding him may be his daughter Gaby (Alicia Vikander).
The villain of the piece is the very mod Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki). I wasn’t clear on her motivation, maybe that’s when I dozed , but she certainly oozed evil in a Cruella de Vil kind of way. Brought in late in the day to oversee our heroic duo is the very British Alexander Waverly (Hugh Grant).
The story is set in the early 1960s and Ritchie does a good job recreating the look and feel of that era. Solo is almost inhumanely dapper. Victoria is equally stylish. The whole film reeks of style over substance.
At times “U.N.C.L.E.” comes across as an anti-action movie action movie. On more than one occasion the real excitement is taking place in the background while the foreground is focused on Solo eating a sandwich or Solo and Illya having a chat. It’s odd but it works. If you’re exhausted by the summer’s run of explosive summer movies, this could be the cure.
“The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” is an uneven film but it falls more on the side of good than bad for me. It’s not something I’d rush out to pay and see in a theater but worth catching up to later at home.