The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – Film Review by C.K. MacNamara
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram
Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander
The auteur days of Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels are a hazy lamented memory in Guy Ritchie’s newest attempt to recapture his lost magic. Whatever has plagued Ricthie’s Directing career over the past decade has not yet departed, though it is not yet time to throw in the towel and declare his shining debut a fluke. Any recent movie goer will spot the similarity between this and the recent Mission Impossible, and the shortcomings have only been multiplied.
Stinking distinctly of early era James Bond though lacking any of the substance or style, the plot revolves around preposterous CIA super spy Napoleon Solo (yes that is actually his name), and his incompetent Frankenstein KGB counterpart Illya Kuryakin as they attempt to buffoon their way through post war Italy. Their mission; retrieve a missing Nazi scientist (though of course he wasn’t really a Nazi the film excuses) who has been kidnapped and roped into building nukes for a mysterious criminal organisation. Less 007 and more Johnny English the majority of this ‘action movie’ consists of a poorly written bicker-offs between the ridiculous Solo and the moronic Kuryakin set across a plethora of hotel rooms and country clubs.
The incompetent uptight Soviet gets flustered at even the hint of a woman, and just for good measure suffers from psychotic episodes. Assigned to this incredibly delicate and subtle mission his reaction to the slightest provocation is uncontrollable rage. How this man passed the KGB screening test would have been a more interesting story.
The film careens between clumsy set pieces with little connection or reason, gathering enough minutia until it grounds to a sluggish and disappointing end. Worst of all, Ritchie has the gall to round off his sad little 60s escapade with blatant sequel baiting, hurriedly explaining that the whole ridiculous venture was in fact an origin story.
For the sake of his previous work, let us hope this is the last revival The Man From U.N.C.L.E. shall receive.