Most of the people seeing The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in theaters have no recollection of the TV series it’s based on. In fact, I’d argue that most people don’t know it was a series at all. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation spent two weekends at number one leading into U.N.C.L.E.‘s premiere which could be a good or bad thing. On one hand, people might be tired of spy thrillers. On the other hand, Rogue Nation did so well it may leave people wanting more espionage and action. It could go either way but I’d hope for the latter because Guy Richie does a fantastic job bringing the movie to life.
I was a fan of a video game, The Saboteur, which took place in Nazi-occupied 1940s France. It’s beautifully constructed and fully immersed the player in the world. The same can be said for Richie’s work with U.N.C.L.E. which transports viewers to 1960s Europe with extreme detail. It’s all welcomed and, aside from stylistic CGI that could have been better, the movie is otherwise (visually) enjoyable.
The biggest piece that makes U.N.C.L.E. work is the cast. Henry Cavill seems plucked from a Mad Men audition and gives a likable performance. The breakout is Armie Hammer who really needed something to let him shine after The Lone Ranger. All is forgiven with this role.
And while Hammer’s take on Illya comes packaged with a Russian accent that had other critics in my screening laughing each time he spoke, his character is so likable that it’s not distracting.
Coming off of Rogue Nation, it needs to be clearly explained while there is all the action you expect from a spy-thriller, it’s not as much as you got from M:I. Comparatively, the action is subdued but (again) that’s not a bad thing. By itself, U.N.C.L.E. stands on its own as a fun, quirky, spy-thriller with the stylistic signature of Guy Richie that makes it really pleasing to watch. The movie hinges on the performances of Cavill, Hammer and Alicia Vikander who all deliver fantastically.
- Unique story
- Lacking action
- Poor pacing