"The Man from U.N.C.L.E." Review
The first day I heard about The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I was pretty skeptical. I had only seen Henry Cavill as Superman, which was not bad, and I always associate Armie Hammer with The Lone Ranger, which is not a good thing to be known for. Guy Ritchie had surprised me with the Sherlock Holmes films he directed, as they were smoothly executed and featured a unique stylistic approach that effectively mirrored the film’s themes of cleverness and action, but I still did not think of him in the highest regard. I also did not have high expectations for the plot, as it seemed like there was a good chance that it could come off as unoriginal. To my pleasant surprise, I was wrong to be skeptical in every single way.
The first thing I have to mention is the amazing execution of Guy Ritchie’s directing. While his Sherlock films had their own distinguishable style, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is even more impressive in the way it weaves an exciting directing style with an equally exciting plot-line. There are many instances that mesh together multiple shots into a collage of frames on the big screen, with the result being perfect montages that portray some type of thrilling action that would otherwise come off as filler action. It is essentially as if, instead of showing a couple of minutes of exactly what the secret agents are doing, Ritchie has condensed those scenes down into short bursts that are as coherent as they are attention grabbing. Perfectly interlacing with the slick visuals is the film's terrific musical score, one that echoes the pacing of the action seamlessly. The film is both visually stimulating and pleasing to the ears through its presentation and action, with this highly stylistic approach making the film even more appealing to the audience than the story alone could provide.
Now on to the two leads, Superman and the Lone Ranger, Cavill plays CIA agent Napoleon Solo; he is the agency's most efficient employee in regards to espionage and serial womanizing. He's a blend of suave nature and expert thieving skills that exists as the American equivalent to James Bond. However, Solo is also given an intriguing background that details how he ended up with the CIA in the first place and adds depth to his character past his charm and good looks. He of course works best alone, but is still partnered with the KGB's most ruthless agent in Illya Kuryakin, portrayed quite well by Armie Hammer. Illya is the opposite type of secret agent in comparison to Solo, as he is a brute force that relies on his physicality to get the job done. He also has an interesting background that establishes the Russian as a tortured soul with a short temper, which is a terrifying combination given his limitless physical ability. The film relies on the dynamic between the two super agents to payoff in a big way. If their chemistry isn't believable, then the whole movie could fall apart. Luckily, Superman and the Lone Ranger are the best odd couple since Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan.
The plot thrusts these two men together to take down a criminal organization that is trying to create nuclear weapons during the dark days of the Cold War. They are tasked with protecting a skilled mechanic named Gaby, played by the talented Alicia Vikander, as they search for her father, a brilliant scientist with the necessary skills to create an atom bomb. The mission forces the unlikely trio to get along with each other despite each of them having their own agendas, and the entire plot is thoroughly entertaining to watch unfold.
Warner Bros. must have been hoping that Ritchie could emulate his blockbuster triumphs he had with the Sherlock films, as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. seems like it could be the start of a successful new franchise. The film is extremely fun, thanks to its excellent action choreography meshing perfectly with the exciting style of Ritchie's directing. Throw in a great film score and two lead actors that bring respectable performances along with an entertaining dynamic and Warner Bros. must be happy with the end result. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is the best summer blockbuster of 2015, not named Mad Max, and is definitely worth the price of admission.