‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’: Four Reasons To See The Stylish 60’s Spy Thriller

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a lot like it’s American spy, Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) — charming, well-tailored with its action sequences and smooth, but not terribly deep or complex. Sometimes you don’t want to have to work for your entertainment, you just want some fun. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. definitely brings the fun.

The television series of the same name from the 60’s teamed an American spy with Soviet Union operative to combat international crime. For the movie, Guy Ritchie wanted to delve into how the odd pair ended up together, so he decided to do a kind of a prequel/origin story.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. kicks off in 1963 in the midst of the cold war when CIA super agent Solo is sent to East Berlin to pick up Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), the daughter of Hitler’s favorite scientist who’s disappeared. The CIA plans to use Gaby to get the scientist back. However, Solo’s not alone — the Soviet Union has sent Ilya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), their own super spy.

Both sides discover there’s a mysterious criminal organization working on an atomic bomb. So, wouldn’t you know it, the mismatched pair of heroic agents must put aside their differences and work together to save the world.

The consensus among reviewers seems to be that the plot is simplistic, especially for a Guy Ritchie movie, and that Cavill and Hammer lack excitement and chemistry, but there’s still plenty of reasons to go see The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and here are just four.

60’s Cool Spy Style

The 60’s was arguably the coolest decade for fashion and swagger, as evidenced by the popularity of Mad Men. But it was also a tension-filled time with the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnamese war and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, the president; Robert Kennedy; and Martin Luthor King.

The effortlessly cool style of the fitted suits, the coiffed hair, the oversized sunglasses, the mod dresses, and the go-go boots goes hand-in-hand with the idea of the uber-suave spy able to plot an important and dangerous mission to save the day while maintaining the attention of one, or many, people at a party.

The Action

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. isn’t wall to wall action but the few set pieces there are have a deft choreography that has more in common with the 60’s Bond movies, like From Russia with Love or Goldfinger, than the frenetic action of today’s films.

The opening action sequence of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., that’s featured in pretty much all the trailers is a stellar kick off to the movie, introducing the main characters in the midst of the action, while giving us a fresh look at a car chase around the Berlin wall.

Ritchie also tackles a boat escape with an eye toward the unconventional.

Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Grant

Alicia Vikander, as Gaby, manages to not only hold her own amongst her male co-stars but shine in her scenes, creating an atmosphere where the woman doesn’t just serve as this week’s love interest, but becomes a working part of the story and keeps the male energy from becoming overwhelming.

In a twist on the traditional spy thriller, Ritchie casts Elizabeth Debicki as the villain and has the people around her treat her with the respect that station demands. She burns the scenery with her smolder.

Though he doesn’t appear until well into The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Hugh Grant seems to have the most fun, as Waverly, head of the newly formed U.N.C.L.E. organization. Hopefully, if the film does well enough to get a sequel, we’ll get to see more of Grant’s character.

Perfect Soundtrack

The soundtrack is almost reason enough to go see The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Daniel Pemberton, the composer, mostly known for his work in television, used old school instruments recorded at the famed Abbey Roads Studio to create the driving beat and retro feel that perfectly matches what Ritchie’s trying to achieve with the visuals.

Take a look at The Man From U.N.C.L.E. below and catch the film opening at theaters near you on August 14.

[Image courtesy Warner Bros. via HenryCavill.org]

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