The most stylish action movie of the summer arrives this weekend: The Man From U.N.C.L.E..
Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer star in Guy Ritchie's period piece set during the Cold War era. Forget Mad Men--this makes the 60s feel beyond cool. On one side: Henry Cavill's Napoleon Solo, a suave American thief turned CIA agent. On the other side: Armie Hammer's Ilya Kuryakin, an awkward, yet skilled KGB operative. The two are introduced by an order to kill one another, but are forced into a partnership to essentially save the world. It's pretty much a measuring contest for who has the biggest...gun.
Hammer and Cavill work well together to provide the humor, although most of the time it's Hammer pouting like an angry-Russian and Cavill smirking as the American knight in a killer suit. The characters stick to their cores, though, throughout the film, adapting to one another, in true origin story form.
U.N.C.L.E.'s cast is a talented bunch with fairly stacked resumés. This project is Henry Cavill's first since Man of Steel, but he isn't given a character packing very much emotion, which falls on the writing more than it does Cavill. Solo is really just an exaggerated version of James Bond. He's ridiculously good-looking, gets whatever girl he wants, and has charming super-spy abilities. Each line, though, is delivered with a 60's impression and it never gives Cavill a significant chance to change cadence or tone. It's not deserving of much criticism because it fits the film's overall attitude but it would have been fun to see Cavill let loose at some point.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'s story isn't what's memorable during it's two hour run time. The story is, in fact, a bit congested and cluttered. The multiple twists are given delightful presentations, thanks to Ritchie's stylish story-telling format, but may leave the more clever audiences saying, "I saw that coming." The third act contains at least three endings. So much is going on that it's easy to forget about the loose ends when you think the movie is going to conclude, but those loose ends pop up again for an even grander finale, which in turn, drags the run time on and keeps you in your seat a bit longer than desired.
Unlike the weekend predecessor Fantastic Four, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. offers a properly paced origin story of how a trio of spies came together to form an international team. Action sequences, sexiness, and humor carry the carry U.N.C.L.E. from start to finish. By the end, U.N.C.L.E. delivers a true origin story, and we would be happy to watch the Americans, Russians, and English infiltrate some more villains.
Ritchie's style is clear and present as ever. He wanted dry humor, consistent characters, action which can both "wow" and humor audiences, and a story-telling format with wit to match the suave throwback approach, witty humor, and classy action.
U.N.C.L.E.'s action sequences are shot stylishly and give audiences the feeling of a modern day Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. None should feel too serious, which is indicated by the light-hearted and upbeat music selection. Even if the story looked good on paper, it is presented in a crowded manner but ultimately forgiven after the car chases, the hand to hand combat, and the dune buggies trudging along in the mud. It's clear that stylish fun was this film's primary concern.
In the long run, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. will not stand out in our memory unless reflected upon for a sequel which would reunite the lovable characters established in this possible franchise debut. Their introduction is stylish and fun but lacks the heart and focus which would have helped the film excel. During their first telling, Solo and Kuryakin are worth meeting if you're looking for a couple of new, sexy friends.
Bottom Line: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a trip to 1960's which overlooks its story for fun, style, and wit. 7.4/10
After credits scene: No