Cavill and Hammer shine in “U.N.C.L.E.” reboot

Cavill and Hammer shine in U.N.C.L.E. reboot

This year, we have already received a slew of sp
y films (the sleeper hit “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, the Melissa McCarthy vehicle “Spy”, and the fifth Mission: Impossible film “Rogue Nation”) with several still to come (Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” and the 24th Bond entry simply titled “Spectre”). Of the previously mentioned films, one seemed to slip under the radar: Guy Ritchie’s “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, based upon the 1960s television show of the same name.

“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” stars Henry Cavill (“Man of Steel” and “Stardust”) and Armie Hammer (“The Social Network” and “The Lone Ranger”) as CIA and KGB spies, respectfully, who attempt to sabotage a nuclear warhead armed at global destruction during the 1960s.

Cavill plays the main character Napoleon Solo, a former criminal turned CIA agent who is forced to work with Illya Kuryakin (Hammer), a Russian KGB agent with disturbing anger issues that rival The Incredible Hulk. Cavill perfectly captures Solo, a confident, wise-cracking ladies man with a slick intellect, awfully reminiscent to that of 007 himself. Hammer is also very good, demonstrating a fantastic Russian accent while proving that the horrible trainwreck “The Lone Ranger” was just a speed bump in his career. Both share great chemistry with each other as well as with co-star Alicia Vikander (“Ex-Machina”), who is also fantastic on her own merits. Other solid performances come from Elizabeth Debicki (“The Great Gatsby”) as the seductive nazi Victoria Vinciguerra, Hugh Grant (“About a Boy”) as the British MI6 agent Waverly, and Jared Harris (“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and “Lincoln”) as Solo’s CIA boss Sanders.

Guy Ritchie of “Snatch” and “Sherlock Holmes” fame did an excellent job of adapting the cult television series, rightfully bringing to mind the slick adaption of the Steve Carell film “Get Smart” from 2008. Ritchie’s direction is faithful to the show, complete with a 1960s soundtrack and even some references to the show.

That being said, the film does suffer from several glaring issues. The most prominent issue here is the same one that muddled “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” late last month: a series of strong unforgivable conveniences. Without getting into spoilers, many instances in the film revolve around a character getting out of trouble due to the smallest of plot points from earlier in the film. This includes finding enemy locations and escaping death traps. I understand that the film is a silly popcorn spy film reminiscent of not just the T.V. show, but also the earlier James Bond films such as “Thunderball,” however some of these conveniences just come off as lazy writing. Instead of taking time to develop how a character would manage some incredible feat, the writers seemed more preoccupied with finding the easiest and quickest way to get these characters out of peril or accomplishing a task.

The other major issue I had is with the twist towards the climax of the film. Quickly after the twist hits the audience, the film quickly retracts it as to create more of a happily ever after sort of ending. Instead of being balls to the wall and gutsy, the film chose the generic way out.

In the end, “U.N.C.L.E.” falls somewhere between “Kingsman” and “Rogue Nation” in turns of quality. While the film was generic and sloppy at times, it was an entertaining flick with solid performances that somewhat excites me at the possibility of a sequel.
Grade: B

Director: Guy Richie

Stars: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris, and Hugh Grant

Runtime: 1 hour and 56 minutes (116 min.)

MPAA rating: PG-13 for action violence, some suggestive content, and partial nudity