The Man from U.N.C.L.E., 2015, UK/USA
Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is a former thief turned CIA agent assigned to extract Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) out of East Germany. Gaby is the daughter of a former Nazi scientist who has gone missing and is believed to be working with Nazi sympathizers to build a bomb. Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) is a KGB agent and tries to thwart Napoleon’s mission and fails. The next day, their respective superiors reveal they are to work together and head to Italy to stop the Nazi sympathizers from diffusing an atomic bomb.
The film is tremendous fun. Director Guy Ritchie is excellent at delivering stylish and entertaining films. This film genuinely feels like a film from the 60s in every possible way, from the outfits, to the tone, to the camera work and cinematography. It’s a homage to the history of that era, as well as to the films from that period.
Cavill and Hammer work well with one another, and Vikander is also quite good. I did feel that Hammer overshadowed Cavill a little bit – his character was simply more interesting. While Napoleon is, in theory, supposed to be the more charismatic character, Hammer’s Illya easily overshadowed him in most scenes. Fans of Archer will notice that Cavill looked and acted just like the title character from that show. Perhaps Sterling Archer is himself an homage to the classic TV series?
It’s really such a shame that this film is not doing well at the box office. I quite like Hammer as an actor, and desperately want to see him in a starring role in a film that is a box office success. He’s been in two flops in a row now, so one must wonder how many more starring roles he will get. He may end up having more luck on television – and TV is really in the midst of a renaissance right now so TV may be the best place for him!
One minor flaw with the film is that it really is quite predictable. I’d predicted the ending long before it came about, which tends to be the case with these sorts of films anyway. It doesn’t really leave you guessing, but it’s a fun ride, and the banter between Hammer and Cavill really make the film enjoyable.