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The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Review


Guy Ritchie is no stranger to reinventing famous pop culture characters. His work on Sherlock Holmes helped cement the A-list status of Robert Downey Jnr and paved the way for Benedict Cumberbatch's modern iteration of the sleuth to become the success that it is. It should be no surprise then to learn that Ritchie has done it again, this time with a 60's TV show that he has reinvigorated for the big screen.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E is a Cold War action adventure that's heaven on the spectacle, though sometimes at the expense of the story. Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), a CIA agent with a bit of a murky past, and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), the KGB's top agent, are two spies on opposite sides of the fence who must reluctantly team up to take down a wealthy criminal who is looking to arm a nuclear weapon. Aided by the fiercely intelligent and beautiful Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), both men must set aside their differences if they are to destroy their common enemy. 

What marks this out above most standard spy movie fare is Vikander, surely 2015's breakout star. While the two spies are busy trying to outmanoeuvre each other to serve their own interests, neither man is a match for the cunning and skill which Vikander displays to manipulate the situation and get them working together.

For their own part, Cavill and Hammer are more than suited to their roles and their chemistry, uneasy at first, grows to become the backbone of what Warner Bros will surely see as potential franchise material. Cavill slinks into the role of square jawed hero with ease, and the lighter tone of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. seems to suit him to tee, as he balances a natural and effortless charm with suave sophistication. 

The action is kept more tongue in cheek than more recent spy movie fare but that's not to say it isn't thrilling in its own way. Guy Ritchie's deft handling of the bigger action scenes prove that he has a knack for stylish set-pieces but there's the same sense of fun that permeated his Sherlock Holmes movies at play here. As much happens in the background sometimes as is happening directly in front of the camera and it all lends itself to a movie whose visual flare is every bit as relevant as its plot.

Comparisons with 007 are bound to drawn given that the movie is set in the era that defined the world's most famous spy, but there's no reason The Man From U.N.C.L.E can't be judged on its own merit. In a time when spy franchises are vying to be darker and more serious, it's refreshing to watch one aware of its own silliness and playing to the strengths of poking fun at itself. The Man From U.N.C.L.E is an exceptionally good looking adventure yarn that doesn't outstay its welcome. While it might not leave you shaken or stirred, it's charming and engrossing enough that another outing is all but guaranteed.


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The Movie Bit: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Review
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Review
The Movie Bit
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