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


The 60s were a time of secret agents and spies. The very first Bond film, Dr. No was released in 1962 and then almost immediately came a whole generation of imitators on TV and film. One of those television shows was called The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which aired from 1964-1968. Decades later, Guy Ritchie is giving The Man from U.N.C.L.E. its long awaited feature film treatment. But is Richie’s new spy film the next big franchise or does the film falter as some of the other spy show adaptations?

Funny and wickedly cool, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. shows audiences that spy films can be a hell of a lot of fun too.


Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. follows CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) and East German Gaby (Alicia Vikander) as they track down Gaby’s jet scientist father who’s been kidnapped by Nazi sympathizers so he can build them a nuclear missle.

Long before Guy Ritchie agreed to direct the film, Steven Soderbergh was at one time attached to direct the film. Watching U.N.C.L.E., one can see why Soderbergh was set to attach. The film emits a coolness factor not seen since Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven. Ritchie’s direction is witty and bright as he playfully dances between spoof and seriousness. The film is also stylish, both aurally and visually. The kinetic camerawork, chic period outfits and the catchy jazz and Italian pop soundtrack all help make U.N.C.L.E. one of the stylishly coolest films this year.


Although the film is filled with style, the film also lacks in substance. U.N.C.L.E. suffers from a muddled plot but the visuals helps move the film along preposterously well. Just expect to see more flash and style than plot intrigue.

Although U.N.C.L.E. doesn’t have the star power of other spy films, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer are extremely fun to watch on screen. Both go all in with the comedy, notably the one-upmanship “battles” between the suave Napoleon Solo and tough-as-nails Illya Kuryakin. They both of them seem to mesh well together, much like Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill on 21 Jump Street.


Just as fun to watch on-screen is Alicia Vikander, fresh off the success of her breakout film Ex Machina, and Elizabeth Debicki. Vikander’s character is as essential and interesting as her two male co-stars. Vikander delivers a goofy charm to the role that prevents the character from becoming the stereotypical Bond girl of the 60s. Debicki on the other hand is alluring and imposing as the film’s main villain. Debicki somehow found a groovy balance between being humorous and being menacing.

Overall, Richie’s stylish direction, sharp casting, humor and entertainment makes The Man from U.N.C.L.E. the liveliest film to come out this summer. If you’re able to look past the absence of a coherent story, I guarantee that you’ll have a good enough time to come back for any potential seconds. Just watch out for that Kuryakin hand slap.

Rating: 3.5/5 atoms
NR 3_5 Atoms - B-

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1622 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.