After missing this movie when it was initially released in theaters, I finally got around to watching The Man From U.N.C.L.E. In short, the movie was okay. Not really good, but nothing really to make it bad, either. It was fairly enjoyable at times, while never really being boring.
The movie was directed by Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes), and I generally like Guy Ritchie movies. I liked both of the Robert Downey, Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies. I really liked Snatch, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. But he’s not incapable of missing, like with RocknRolla. And generally speaking, this was more hit than miss.
First off, it is a pretty basic story, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Certain story tropes become cliche over time just because they usually work as a story. Here, you’ve got the typical bad guy organization trying to get a nuke with the intent of killing lots of people. Two opposites are forced to work together in order to stop the bad guys. After initially clashing, they learn about each other and develop a friendship, of sorts, and stop the bad guy. All stuff you have seen numerous times before. So why see a movie that you’ve probably seen a hundred times before? To me, it’s characters that separate these types of movies.
Let’s start with Henry Cavill as Solo. He’s the American spy, who the CIA has forced into service because they caught hi stealing something. Apparently, the CIA could do that back in the 60s. I don’t know. Anyways, this was the interesting role to me. The only things I’ve seen Cavill in are his Superman appearances and Immortals. Two fairly serious roles. But here, he’s a snarky, over-confident, master thief. For me, just seeing this different role for him was fun. He does really well in it. It makes me wish a little bit that he was some hero other than Superman, where he could use the cockiness seen in this movie. Maybe Hal Jordan, but I’m getting off track. The point is, I thought Cavill was quite enjoyable in this movie.
Next up is Armie Hammer as Illya. He’s the Soviet spy, who’s got a serious mean streak. If Cavill is the comic relief, than Hammer is the straight man in this duo. Now, I’ve only seen Hammer in The Lone Ranger (which does have one of the funnest action sequences ever), so I had even less of a reference to what kind of actor he is. The Russian accent was okay, I guess. Not overly cartoony, but not quite certain it’s incredibly accurate. It may be, but as I was watching the movie, it did sound a bit off. Illya does receive the most character development in the movie, really because he has the most room to grow. He’s an overly dedicated spy, who eventually learns to work with, and open up to others. It’s a fine progression as he develops a camaraderie with these people that he viewed as enemies. Quite literally at the beginning of the movie.
Lastly, there’s Alicia Vikander as Gaby. Gaby is a charming character, but she seemed to jump around a bit. Although, part of that may be story driven, without giving up too much of the details. Solo finds her in a mechanic shop in East Berlin, and smuggles her out after Illya tries to stop them. After the three of them get paired up, her cover is that she’s Illya’s fiance. And while they’re staying in a hotel together, she starts warming up to him. It was a weird jump to me, because at this point, he hadn’t really done anything to warrant that. Maybe you could say that she saw some vulnerabilities in him when they were mugged and she had to remind him that right now, he was just an architect. But, I don’t know. It was a bit of a stretch to get started.
I don’t really have much to say about the villains. They’re probably the weakest part of the movie. But really, the movie isn’t about them. It’s about the interactions between the 3 main characters. The villains are really just there to give a reason for the good guys to team up. Could this movie have been better with a compelling villain? Definitely, but I don’t think it does irreparable harm in this go around by having a weak villain.
So, that’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. It’s a fun movie, that I do recommend you should probably watch at some point. Currently, if you have HBO, it is available to stream. So, one night, when you can’t decide what to watch, or just need something lighthearted, give this a try.
I’m adding this in as a post script, of sorts. But I just had the crazy idea that Henry Cavill probably could pull off a decent James Bond. Just throwing that out there in case Tom Hiddleston and Idris Elba don’t get it.