The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (5/10)

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Saving the world never goes out of style.


At the height of the Cold War, a mysterious criminal organization plans to use nuclear weapons and technology to upset the fragile balance of power between the United States and Soviet Union. CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB agent Illya Kuryakin are forced to put aside their hostilities and work together to stop the evildoers in their tracks. The duo's only lead is the daughter of a missing German scientist, whom they must find soon to prevent a global catastrophe.

Title The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Director Guy Ritchie
Director of Photography John Mathieson
Runtime 1 h 56 min
Certification PG-13
Release Date 14 August 2015
Tagline Saving the world never goes out of style.
IMDb Id tt1638355

Guy Ritchie based this spy movie on the original 60s TV show, but other than most modern remakes he didn’t transplant the concept to today – it is still set in the 1960s. And it is an ‘origins’ story – ie how U.N.C.L.E. (Unified Network Command for Law and Enforcement) came about. So far so good.

But the storyline…the acting… the cinematography… bah humbug…

Henry Cavill plays Napolean Solo, a CIA agent who ends up forced to join forces with KGB agent Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to rescue the daughter (Alicia Vikander) of a German scientist as a way to get access to a criminal organisation planning to use nuclear weapons to destablise internation relations for their own gain. I think. Not that the plot matters too much, as this movie is clearly aiming for style over substance.

And the styling is absolutely impressive. Yet while many sets and shots are fantastic, there is something wrong with the cinematography. The colour palette chosen is too flat and it results in a lack of depth in the images, weakening the stylishness of what really are some excellently designed sets and choreographed scenes.

But the choice of style over substance results in the characters feeling almost completely personality-less. Cavill looks terribly handsome but comes across as wooden as a marionette, and the ‘comedic banter’ between him and Hammer well, just isn’t very comedic. Maybe Ritchie tried to copy his approach from his Sherlock Holmes movies where the banter between Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law worked (be it in equally poorly plotted storylines) but Cavill and Hammer have very little chemistry, and Cavill’s choice to play his character with over-the-top nonchalance makes him come across more spoofy than it is cool. And it is a shame to see Vikander play such en empty role after her intriguing part in Ex Machina earlier this year.

A real shame; considerable potential, many things right, but too much wrong to be a good movie.

5/10 for style.

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