Film Review – The Man From U.N.C.L.E (2015)

Uncle - post

Title – The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2015)

Director – Guy Ritchie (Snatch)

Cast – Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant

Plot – In the heat of the 1960’s Cold War battle, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and Russian agent Illya Kuryakin (Hammer) must team up to stop some baddies selling nuclear bombs. Complicating the pairs uneasy pairing is the addition of beautiful yet dangerous Gaby (Vikander).

 “For a special agent, you’re not having a very special day, are you?”

Review by Eddie on 19/08/2015

With more style than a Kardashian’s wardrobe and with a trio of unnaturally attractive leads, Guy Ritchie’s modern take on the moderately successful 1960’s TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E is certainly a film that’s easy to look at and has a breezy carefree nature but it’s also a film that stays so incredibly close to playing it safe that for a director known for his energy and non-conforming style, it remains a curiously questionable adventure that when judged on Box Office numbers, not many people were calling out for.

From my understanding a passion project for Ritchie who has a great fondness for the original property, UNCLE is a film driven by Ritchie but it’s destination isn’t what we’ve come to expect from the man that gave us the one two punch of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch and found success with his modern take on the Sherlock Holmes stories. Uncle lacks the action and more dark nature of many of Ritchie’s greatest successes and there’s an overhanging cloud that follows the films runtime that can’t be shaken, a cloud of misjudged scenarios that promise much yet deliver only in parts.

It may seem twee or even wrong to suggest that UNCLE is boring but in the modern day and age of movie making you can’t help but escape the fact that UNCLE could’ve benefited greatly from more exciting set pieces. There are small glimpses of this, an opening car chase and a snappily edited later car chase and a scene where Henry Cavill’s Solo has an impromptu picnic in a military truck is quite witty, but for much of UNCLE’s runtime you’ll be wondering where the real excitement is going to come from as its most surely not coming from it’s two dull male leads.

Much has been made of the questions being asked of both Henry Cavill (after Man of Steel) and Armie Hammer (after The Lone Ranger) and their abilities as leading man and UNCLE will do nothing but strengthen the argument against them. Delivering potentially ripe dialogue with an ever dry dullness and seemingly incapable of more than a handful of looks, Cavill and in particular Hammer (with bad Russian accent in full effect) bring UNCLE down where it could’ve made inroads and the films acting trope is saved by yet another impressive turn from Alicia Vikander as the mysterious Gaby.

With a plot line almost to lame to bare and with a two pronged attack of boorish male leads, UNCLE is quite lucky that it doesn’t fail more harshly than it does which is thanks to a clear love from director Ritchie and the increasingly likeable Vikander. With signposted intentions of this film being the cornerstone of a new series, on the basis of this entry I think we’ve officially seen the last of UNCLE team despite a small sprinkling of life that can be found in the film’s most efficient scenes.

2 ½ perfectly packed picnic baskets out of 5

P.S – A big heartfelt shoutout to Andrea, the Manager of the Kaikoura Mayfair Theatre who made my trip to their lovely venue such a memorable one.

28 responses to “Film Review – The Man From U.N.C.L.E (2015)

  1. Sounds like one to avoid. The Kaikoura seems a lot like my own local, the Yarraville Sun – art deco, several cinemas, each with its characteristic décor. A good movie house is the glory of creation.

      • I’d love it if I had a cinema like that near me. All I have is the Palace Nova, which is great in that it shows thew films the multiplexes don’t show, but it doesn’t have the style you describe. That theatre sounds like a real treat to see a movie in!

  2. The trailer I saw for this in the cinemas didn’t look like a Guy Ritchie film, and this confirms that i think. I miss the dark nature of his older films, hell even the small parts of his Sherlock films i have seen I liked. This doesn’t sound anything like those works. Pity =/

    Great review

    • Cheers Jordan. It really did feel like a Ritchie project that had studio interference and would’ve really worked better as a film more in the vein of Kingsman even though there were small charms to be found in amongst all the averageness here.

  3. The Man from UNCLE was a product of its time. Remaking it just seems like a waste of effort to me. The TV movie “Return of The Man from UNCLE; The 15 Years Later Affair” with Robert Vaughn and David McCallum reprising their roles (and The Avengers’ Patrick Macnee taking over for Leo G Carroll) is probably far superior to this new one.

  4. I haven’t watched this yet, but I find it really stupid how movie execs think it was a good idea to spend close to 100 million dollars on an adaptation to a freaking cold war era series. Guy Ritchie could have made so many more interesting flicks instead!
    Are they really that aloof from modern audiences?

    • I do think Ritchie’s undeniable talents could’ve been better used someone else Ricardo. I think after this movies weak $$$ at the Box Office it will make them think twice about brining back another one.

  5. Dang, Eddie. I watched the TV program when I was young, it was very good. Hate to see a classic get boogered up so badly. I’ll wait for this one to come on the cable or net, thank you. When this movie was announced I was excited about it. But … it is difficult to find an audience for the Cold War era. After reading your review I think that if the film was set in modern times it probably wouldn’t have flown anyway. Thank you.

  6. Again we disagree.. while definitely not a Bond-caliber film, the opening car chase was fun and it truly was stylishly done. I loved the chemistry between the 3 leads..they saved the film as the story wasn’t very good and neither was the evil couple. It was averagely entertaining for Cavill used to be my neighbor and we had so many fun pool & marg. days..maybe I let the fun memory of that slip in some too! 😀

  7. I finally liked her here.. and in Testament of Youth..still don’t get the Ex Machina thing..:) shocking how all the boys think she is everything..hahahahahhaa at least us girls had our fair share here also. 🙂

    • Yeh I’m looking forward to seeing Testament. She really is the “it” thing at the moment, her upcoming film with Michael Fassbender could be all types of great and filmed on Jordan’s patch down there in Tasmania of all places.

  8. Hi Eddie – thanks for the shoutout! 🙂
    It was great having you watch “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” at the Mayfair Theatre. We are, indeed very lucky to have a cinema in Kaikoura.

    • No worries Andy! I look forward to one day getting back there for another screening and I look forward to hearing of a great midnight launch for the Force Awakens 🙂

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