*warning: contains a few plot spoilers*
After Kingsman : The Secret Service was released early on this year, we’ve been waiting for a new spy thriller to occupy our cinema screens, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E certainly left us feeling content.
Guy Ritchie’s new take on the 1960’s television show, set during the peak of the Cold War, saw Henry Cavill (Napoleon Solo) up against Armie Hammer (Illya Kuryakin) as rival CIA and KGB operatives. Although the original series may have been topical, the setting of the Cold War may have been lost to a number of viewers, the movie having a lot of style, admittedly lacking some substance at times.
Although there were multiple scenes that saw a chase within the film, none left a particularly lasting impression, and despite the fact that overall they were very enjoyable, we did not necessarily find ourselves on the edge of our seats as we may have had it been any other movie. That being said, the nonchalance of Napoleon and typical Russianness of Illya made it difficult for them to be particularly thrilling.
Even the villain herself may not have been as exciting and cunning as she could have, Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki) in all her beauty being reasonably bland and her evil scheme of creating a nuclear weapon seeming almost too typical of the Cold War. Even with all her knowledge and power, our secret agents managed to outwit Victoria easily in a rather anticlimactic although reasonably intelligent fashion. In the end, we felt that we would have liked to have seen a bit more of Victoria, especially with her meeting such an unfortunate end.
With that in mind, we also debate the inevitability of Gaby’s (Alicia Vikander) betrayal, because although we thought her and Illya were adorable, we all knew it was too good to last! Focussing on the relationship side of her character seems slightly wrong however, as we certainly felt that she could hold her own within a mans world. She also turned into the connection Napoleon and Illya needed to form a wonderful bromance in the end, leaving us very happy.
With all of that being said, these two characters provided two strong female leads this movie needed to rival the typical masculinity of the male leads, also providing us with some extra glamour only a well off woman from the 50’s could deliver.
Another point that just simply has to be considered is the surprise appearance of Hugh Grant, as the British Secret Service agent nobody really asked for. His short performance may have been relatively unnecessary, but we were still left smiling that smile you only get when witnessing him in all his glory!
The actors themselves may have been the highlight of the film as the plot itself was relatively mild, but something that can’t be ignored is the slick editing and aesthetically pleasing nature of the film. Every shot was done with style, every turn of the camera was smooth and every set was a different sort of 1950’s aesthetic that you didn’t know you wanted to see, but it turned out you really did! Overall, you can’t complaint about the visual elements, with even the costumes being tasteful and stylish enough to leave you wanting more.
Although there may have been a few plot holes that we let slip our minds, and it may not be the next Bond film, overall The Man From U.N.C.L.E was an enjoyable experience, and we definitely felt satisfied when we left our seats.