Based on the classic 60's TV show of the same name, this Guy Ritchie-writ and directed spy caper focuses on the adventures of an American spy (Henry Cavill) and an Russian one (Armie Hammer) when they are partnered together to protect a German girl (Alicia Vikander) and catch some evil bad guys who have a nuclear bomb.
|I still don't know what U.N.C.L.E. stands for. Probably only because I wasn't paying attention.|
Plot really isn't the important part of this movie. It gives way to the movies sense of style, and before you know it 60's glam is permanently in the driver's seat. And credit to where credit is due; it's all quite effectively glamorous. Costumes and cars and cheeky characters lounge around and give off the impression that this is less of a movie and more like a fashion magazine. And eventually the glam turns to glare. I write this a few weeks after seeing the film, and what has stuck with me most is the lack of impression I had concerning almost anything except how the movie looked.
I didn't expect too much from the characters, and got about what I expected to, but the results were turned around a little. I thought Henry Cavill's character would be the most interesting since he was the "main character," but Armie Hammer's character wound up being just as "main" and even more likable and interesting by far -- in spite of the distracting Russian accent. His Illya turned out to be quite a sweetheart with endearing complexities while Cavill's Solo was charming on the surface, but too cool to touch underneath. Vikander's Gaby fell victim to the confusion of an overly-sharp plot twist, and never regained footing back in her character for me after that. Elizabeth Debicki was endlessly stoic and elegant, and the most convincingly retro, but her villainous character never strove for anything beyond the surface, in a classic case of style over substance.
|Yes, a nap sounds like a nice idea...|
The plot never engaged me enough for me to bother to really try and follow it, and by the time I realized that waiting for the action scenes was going to leave me unsatisfied in the end (because action scenes were rather few and far between) it was too late. It was certainly my fault, and thinking back the dramatic scenes were not at all bad, it's just that I was only really engaged in them when they were specifically developing character. And then only really in Illya's case. There were more action scenes at the film's beginning (which in my defense did give me a wrong first impression) and there were only three or four really memorable scenes -- two being a car chase sequence. After the latter car chase, the film puttered off to an end climax based on non-action things -- spy stuff and plot things that I didn't want to pay attention to, and the last "gotcha" moment was just dramatics which, I found, was pretty unfulfilling.
|A little romance never hurts, fortunately.|
I was hoping this would be a fun and funny caper where I could turn my mind off and enjoy a film that was made to be enjoyed, with no effort required. Unfortunately, the movie didn't have the cotton candy/popcorn flavor that would have found success with me. I knew it wouldn't be a ground breaking feat of the cinema, but it turned out to not be the kind of goofy cheesy spy-flick that turns my head either. Its main goal seemed to be setting up for a sequel that will probably never happen now because they forgot to make the one it had memorable. I simultaneously found it too serious, yet not serious enough; charming, but not drawing, often humorous, but not funny, and dramatic, but not witty. Characters and action stood out, but didn't get enough attention devoted to them to be truly rewarding. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. fades away into a brightly colored, jumbled, and hazy ball of not-quite-good-enough.