Review: Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Guy Ritchie’s latest stylistic film The Man From U.N.C.L.E is nowhere near the best movie of the year, but it comes at a time when casual moviegoers are looking for something fun and enjoyable compared to the disappointing summer movie season of 2015. 

So far this summer, I have only oohed and aahed over two summer blockbusters. Mad Max and Inside Out.

That’s not to say I didn’t like others. Avengers and Jurassic World were both fun to watch, but not as good as they could have been. Spy and Trainwreck made me laugh. Then there’s Ant-Man and Mission Impossible, both of which started to heat things up at the tail end of summer. But, there is still that feeling of seeing a true summer movie that has been missing really, since The Dark Knight.

With the constant disappointment this summer has delivered, UNCLE temporarily helps that fix.

Based on the spy series of the same name, UNCLE is about an art-thief, Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill, Man of Steel), who joins the CIA on a mission to extract Gaby (Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina), the daughter of a kidnapped German nuclear scientist in East Berlin during the Iron Curtain era. Solo comes toe-to-toe with Illya (Armie Hammer, The Lone Ranger), a KGB agent without the ability to control his anger. It’s a mixture of a reboot and a prequel that helps answer the question that  was never clear in the first place, the origin of their partnership.

Being 22-years old, I’ve never seen the series. Frankly, I had not even heard of it until I saw the first trailer for this movie a few months ago. I am the intended audience. Not because of my age, but because I can’t compare this to what it originally was intended to be. Remakes are all guilty of trying to either recreate the impact the original had or trying to one-up it. It’s very rare for a reboot to be better than the original because it will always lack one major thing – BEING ORIGINAL. If viewers go in with an empty mindset not knowing how this compares to the show, it will be better appreciated. That argument can be said for any remake ever, but unfortunately the world doesn’t work that way and expectation is everything.

All adaptations should be focused on entertaining those who didn’t grow up with the original material. So they can sit back and just enjoy what is happening. This movie served that purpose many times throughout.

It has the style you find in most Ritchie films (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes), but what I thought was missing most was the stylistic hand-to-hand combat fight scenes I initially fell in love with. There was one scene in particular that almost had it, but then it was entirely off-screen left to the imagination.

There is definitely some good action, plus equal amounts sex-appeal and humor, without ever crossing any lines.

The biggest problem I had was pretty much the only real problem– the acting.

Not only is it confusing to have a Brit trying really hard to play an American, but also there’s an American playing a Russian, and an up-and-coming talented Swedish actress playing a German.

Now, that may not really sound like too much of a problem, but when you have Hammer who has charm and wit playing a character with neither trait, and Cavill who lacks both charm and wit, yet plays a character with those traits, it mixes together in a bad way.

This still may be Cavill’s best performance to date, but that has more to do with the roles he has chosen thus far. If Hammer and Cavill swapped roles, the movie would have definitely been better, but I just don’t think either was right for this movie.


The entire time, I saw Matt Bomer (Magic Mike) in the role of Solo and Dan Stevens (The Guest) as role Illya. But maybe that’s just me. Bomer famously played a con-artist with sex appeal, charm and wit, plus he and Cavill look very similar. Stevens is more of a grasp, but I loved him in The Guest, plus he and Hammer look pretty similar in the right light.

As far as spy movies go, there were some typical twists and turns that throw you for a loop, but not as much as you’d like to see.

With the tasteful one-liners and playful sexual humor throughout the film, you don’t forget the purpose of this movie, which is to sit in the theater and have a good time, and I endorse the fact you definitely will have fun.

UNCLE could not have come out at a better time following the ultra-disastrous Fantastic Four and I have no doubt that aided in me enjoying it more, so with that I give this movie a B-.

Man From U.N.C.L.E is in theaters everywhere Friday, August 15, and stars Hugh Grant, Sylvester Groth, Elizabeth Debicki and Jared Harris.


Dillon Rosenblatt
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