Over the years, Guy Ritchie has become synonymous for a certain kind of filmmaking thanks to his gripping story telling abilities that we have witnessed in his previous ventures like LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, SNATCH and the SHERLOCK HOLMES series. Returning to the big screen after a four year gap, Ritchie promises yet another edge of the seat entertainer with THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
Set in the 1960s against the backdrop of the Cold War, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) successfully helps Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) defect to West Germany despite the intimidating opposition of KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). Later, all three unexpectedly find themselves working together in a joint mission to stop a private criminal organization from using Gaby’s father’s scientific expertise to construct their own nuclear bomb. Through clenched teeth and stylish poise, all three must find a way to cooperate for the sake of world peace, even as they each pursue their own agendas.
The film begins with a rather ‘bond-esque’ chase sequence with Solo trying his level best to evade a persistent Kuryakin amidst the desolate streets in East Germany while simultaneously adding Gaby defect to West Germany. The plot features a simple story line, wherein Solo and Kuryakin are on a mission to find Gaby’s father Udo (Christian Berkel) who has been kidnapped by a crime syndicate that intends to use Udo’s skill at developing enriched nuclear grade uranium to develop a nuke. However, despite having a rather mundane run of the mill plot line, Ritchie does a brilliant job of bringing out myriad of emotions from his characters.
Though THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. is not a wall to wall actioner, it does have its fair share of action sequences and high speed chases. In fact while the film starts off with a car chase sequence, it also incidentally culminated with one that can easily be termed as one of the best thought out and well executed sequences. But what the film relies on is the comedic element that Henry Cavill (earlier seen in the MAN OF STEEL) does a marvelous job of, in portraying the slick cool thief turned super spy. His comic timing and straight faced gags are definitely a surprise element in the film. On the other hand, Armie Hammer who had the tougher part to depict, that of a straight shooting, no nonsense Russian spy, does an even better job. While at times his character appears a bit cliched, Hammer’s performance along with director Ritchie’s skills, manage to keep the audience engaged.
However, the high point of the film has to be Alicia Vikander as Gaby Teller. Despite her role teetering from being a victim to that of the main antagonist, Alicia manages to hold the fine line between quite literally making or breaking this film. However, Ritchie manages the directorial reins with aplomb keeping the audience in the dark almost till the end about Alicia’s real true motive. While on the topic of performances, a special mention goes to Huge Grant who does a commendable job in his limited role as Waverly. However, while most films have depicted a rather demented or tortured soul as the main villain, Elizabeth Debicki is seductive, stunning and evil as the femme fatal Victoria.
Another aspect that deserves being mentioned is the fact that being a period film, the makers of THE MAN FROM U.N.CL.E. have managed to do a rather fine job that is evident from the effort to get things right. With detailed attention being paid to the look and feel of the decade that was, a keen observer will easily spot in the film certain iconic looks prevailing at that time.
On the whole, if you are a Guy Ritchie fan, despite its average storyline, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. is definitely worth a watch, with a lot to offer.
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