Sunday, 16 August 2015

Film Review: "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." (2015).




What happens when you pair Napoleon Solo, the CIA's most effective agent, with Illya Kurakin: the youngest member of the KGB? You get The Man from U.N.C.L.E. This action comedy spy film directed by Guy Ritchie and co-written by Lionel Wigram and Ritchie, based on the 1964 MGM television series of the same name, which was created by Sam Rolfe. The film is set in the early 1960s, it follows CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin as they participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.

Warner Bros. had been trying to make the film for over a decade and it was one of those projects that couldn't get the green light. First with producer John Davis in 1993, then Steven Soderbergh in 2012 (who was originally going to direct but exited the project over disagreements with the studio over budget and casting concerns). Finally in March 2013, Ritchie signed on. On July 31, 2013, it was announced that Ritchie's adaptation would start filming in September 2013 in London and Italy. One of the film's highlights is its authenticity towards the style and period in which the film is set in. The filmmakers explained that one of the reasons the film stayed in the 60s time period is it allows them "to have our own world, our own reality, our own tone, which sets us apart" from films like Bourne and other recent spy thrillers. Ritchie looked at films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) for inspiration, trying to create a juxtaposition between humor and serious and looking to "cross genres to a degree". Some of the costumes in the film are actually vintage clothing.

 The film stars Henry Cavill as Solo, taking over the role once played by Robert Vaughn, and Armie Hammer as Kuryakin, once played by David McCallum. As well as Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Grant. The cast gave superb performance. In particular, Cavill and Hammer were perfect together. Vikander played the role beautifully and always had something to do as opposed to being the damsel-in-distress. The same is said for Debicki, who also made a convincing and seductive villain. Grant also gave a wonderful performance, however it was a terrible shame that his character had very small screen time.

Guy Ritchie's directorial style might not be quite the best fit for an update on the legendary 1960s spy TV series, but The Man From U.N.C.L.E. benefits from the elementary appeal of strong performances, visuals and an action-packed plot. Ritchie set out to make a cool movie about cool guys with cool stuff, however, the film was essentially a series of poses and stunts which was intermittently diverting at times. The filmmakers are mainly interested in action; that, they believe, is all that gets young audiences into cinemas today. They may be right, but they may have misunderstood the essence of one of television's greatest creations in the process.

Simon says The Man from U.N.C.L.E. receives:


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