Thursday, March 23, 2017

Movie #396: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is an action/spy movie based on the TV show of the same name, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Grant, and Sylvester Groth.

In the height of the Cold War, an American CIA agent named Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and a Russian KGB agent named Ilya Kuryakin (Hammer) are forced to team to save the world. Wacky hijinks ensue.

More specifically, after nearly killing each other trying to obtain an asset - Gaby (Vikander), the daughter of a missing nuclear scientist (Christian Berkel) - they wind up assigned to partner up to find said scientist before he is forced to show some fascists how to enrich uranium. She does so by tracking down her uncle Rudi (Groth) and pretending she's engaged to Kuryakin, while Solo cozies up to/seduces the head of the fascist family business (Debicki).

The show has some twists and turns; it turns out Rudi's a Nazi and a torturer, and Gaby is working for British intelligence under a chap named Waverly (Grant), but in the end, the bad guys get blown up, Kuryakin and Solo don't shoot each other, and Waverly recruits them all for a new intelligence outfit: UNCLE.

I've watched a bit of the Man from UNCLE TV show, and I think this is a nice "origin story" for it. Sure, the show wasn't nearly so violent, and Kuyakin (David McCallum on TV) wasn't, like, prone to psychotic breaks, but Cavill's performance as the smooth, sophisticated Solo is perfect. I like the addition of Vikander as Gaby, and I really wish we'd get a sequel so we could a) see them as a team and b) see Gaby doing badass car things some more. (Sadly, a sequel doesn't seem in the offing.) The chemistry between the cast is present, the performances generally are good, and casting Grant as Waverly was pretty genius.

In an example of "that's awesome but arrgh," the end credits show files on each of the principles, and we learn, for instance, that Waverly was an opium addict and Gaby trained as a ballet dancer. I'm not saying they should have worked in a scene where she dances or Waverly tokes up, just that a sequel would be really cool.

My Grade: A-
Rewatch Value: High

Next up: The Man with the Iron Fists