All the style you could want. So this is about an American CIA agent (Henry Cavill) being forced to team up with a KGB operative (Armie Hammer) so as to prevent bad guys from taking over the world with nuclear warfare. Now I can honestly say that this is a property I have no background on; I know about it in name only, and if there is one bigger blindspot for me than 80’s comedies, it’s syndicated television shows from yesteryear. So, not having any previous gathered knowledge on this, I was able to sit down free of any expectations. The verdict? You have a fantastic looking movie that is difficult to follow.
It’s a damn fine period piece. If only the story matched the decor.
The career of director Guy Ritchie has been an interesting one. After he had his midlife crisis with Madonna and Swept Away, it took him a movie or two to regain his footing. He then came back strong with the Sherlock Holmes series and discovered something about himself: in addition to cockney gangster flicks (Snatch will always be a favorite of mine), he is actually really good at crafting period pieces. He has the flair for it, so it makes total sense for him to come to something like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. This movie has style to spare, and that is easily the best thing about it. All the little details that you may or may not be expecting are all present, and upon watching this, it is clear where the entirety of the focus went, with the writers obviously having drawn the short straw. It’s on the level of one of the lesser James Bond movies, like Quantum of Solace; there may be a cool scene here and there, but can I tell you what is truly going on with this story? Not a chance.
Although I can always get behind a movie making a Once Upon a Time in the West reference, of which there is one prominently featured here.
The fact that this is needlessly convoluted is disappointing, and it is not a great through story line. I think most people are going to have a disconnect because it is so trite, but there are fun quips between Cavill and Hammer that keep you going, and they share a pretty good back and forth together. It’s just a basic odd couple spy team up movie that didn’t need so many subplots and tangents, but that’s just my personal opinion. All of the production values are there, and if you have the ability to completely divorce yourself from needing some glimmer of a compelling story and just enjoy a movie for its ascetics, you will probably be able to enjoy this very stylish flick. If not, you’re better off skipping. I personally can do that to an extent, so my rating reflects that.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) ***
– Critic for Hire