The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) Movie Review: A Slick, Stylish Spy Throwback

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for each overtly 60’s moment

Take a Drink: for each wise-crack

Take a Drink: during each stylish moment

Do a Shot: for each beautiful outfit

001
So much 60’s!

Do a Shot: to Armie Hammer’s Russian accent

Take a Drink: each time Solo and Illya fight

Take a Drink: for each predictable plot twist

Do a Shot: to a Hugh Grant appearance

Everyone's favorite charming brit.
Everyone’s favorite charming Brit.

Community Review

How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Movie Review

By: Matt Conway (Three Beers) – 

One of the most exciting directors to watch ever since his debut has been Guy Ritchie. Ever since his start in 1998, Ritchie has brought a great deal of visual style and personality to gangster films, breathing a breath of fresh air to the genre. Films like Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and RocknRolla have proven Ritchie as an interesting voice behind the camera, making visually alive and overall enjoyable flicks.

Like most directors who find a great deal of success with smaller films, Ritchie has been called up to the big-leagues, now directing more large-scale flicks. His efforts with the Sherlock Holmes franchise were somewhat successful, as his visual eye really bumped up what were for the most part so-so films. The same could be said about Ritchie’s latest The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which is a slight, yet fun summer popcorn flick.

We can do without a third...
We can do without a third…

With the threat of nuclear war on the way, KGB and CIA operatives Solo and Illya are forced to team up despite their rivalry.

A Toast 

As usual with a Guy Ritchie film, The Man from U.N.C.L.E features a great deal of style. Guy Ritchie captures the swankiness of the 60’s perfectly, directing the film with a great amount of swagger. Each outfit and setting fits to the tee of the 1960’s, and that kind of authenticity is a great touch to see. Richie really brings the audience into the era, a sign of his talent and refreshing to see in a summer blockbuster.

Not only does Ritchie bring a great deal of style to the film, but also to the action setpieces. The Man from U.N.C.L.E really pushes its budget to the limit in the action setpieces, always giving off a grand sense of scale in each moment. The action is swift and slick to watch, while still giving the audience a clear idea of what’s going on. Sometimes, too much style can make an action scene disorienting, but Ritchie really creates a nice balance.

*cough*
*cough*

Leading the way are both Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, who are the two stars of the film. Both actors have had their big projects before, but neither of them has been that memorable in the past for myself personally. Here, though, both get a chance to shine. Cavill brings an effortless, cooler-than-school charm to Solo, with his Kennedy-like accent also being a nice touch. Hammer on the other hand is the perfect match, being more subtle, yet still having fun with his role. Both together have a great deal of chemistry on-screen, which makes their pairing work.

Supporting them is an impressive supporting cast. This year truly is the year of Alicia Vikander, with her yet again shining here. She has a glowing screen presence from the start, and makes the most of her role. Elizabeth Debicki is wonderful villainess here as well as Victoria, being a very much worthy villain. Other supporting players such as Jared Hess and Hugh Grant also do solid work in smaller roles.

She can even bring a robot to life.
She can even bring a robot to life.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E is in general quite entertaining. The script written by Lionel Wigram and Ritchie himself features a fair share of surprisingly funny moments, which is a nice change of pace. The film has a consistently light tone throughout, which made its two hour running time feel quite breezy, which is all audiences are really asking for here.

Beer Two

Its light tone however also backfires, as it’s hard to take the film very seriously. The film in the third act shift towards a chase to stop nuclear war, and considering the first two thirds were rather goofy; I personally did not feel very much tension. It would have been nice if the film went full-through with its jokey tone, rather then turning into a more generic action film in its third act.

Go full out Moonraker!
Go full out Moonraker!

The script here fails to develop very interesting characters. All of the performances are quite good, but the characters the script creates feel very one-note. One would expect that the writers would know better than create such cliched characters, but the script fails to do anything interesting with said cliches. Alicia Vikander’s character in particular feels more like a plot point, rather than an actual character that was needed for this universe.

Beer Three

The Man from U.N.C.L.E also falls incredibly flat in the story department. The script here gives audiences a very thinly-constructed set-up, and then goes down a very generic path. It’s apparent the script tries to throw in a fair share of surprises, but none of these twists actually felt very surprising. The biggest twist in particular I called just a few minutes into the film, as the script’s idea of a twist is rather routine.

The whole affair feels somewhat slight. The Man from U.N.C.L.E lacks any sort of substance to really make the film a memorable experience. It’s fun, but even hours after seeing the film, my memory of it is already starting to evaporate from my mind.

Verdict

The Man from U.N.C.L.E delivers on the summer fun audiences expect, but not much aside from that. It’s still nice to see director Guy Ritchie work with a bigger scale, but I wish he could be working with overall better material. Still worth a viewing, especially with the summer movie season winding down.

About Matt Conway

I love movies and sports and run on sentences. You can find me at a basketball court, the local theater, or napping on a couch somewhere.

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