The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Guy Ritchie’s new summer blockbuster, hit the screens a couple of weeks ago and has been met with mixed but mostly friendly reviews. The general consensus seems to be that it was a solidly made picture, if a bit “prettier” than Guy Ritchie’s usual rough-and-tumble bad boy style of yesteryear, and perhaps was not up for overtaking its summer competition. In this case, the general consensus pretty much has it down.
The modern reboot of the ‘60s spy show (that none of U.N.C.L.E.’s target audience was alive to watch) about the frigid U.S. – Russian stalemate (that none of U.N.C.L.E.’s target audience actually remembers) is still fun and engaging for those unfamiliar with the history. Additionally, with its PG-13 rating, U.N.C.L.E. shies away from the profane and explicit, making it a clean film that you, the little ones and your parents (who do remember the ‘60s original) can really enjoy.
Instead of burdening the plot with the explicit, the film puts an emphasis on smooth speech and suave style, with handsome leads Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) as American spy Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as Russian KBG agent Illya Kuryakin doing a great job of looking the woo-inspiring part. Additionally, the film throws in a cute little attraction situation between German Gaby and Russian Illya, whose covers happened to be that they are married—a fact that they both pretend disgusts them.
The film has its clever, funny moments—Illya taking over Gaby’s cover identity fitting, explaining that his wife would never dare to wear that belt with that dress and so on—and, of course, the traditional American “spy movie” conventions—fast talking American spy Solo, more than willing to overly womanize “for the sake of the mission.”
However, those moments aside, it is not nearly as enjoyable and hilarious as Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service from earlier this summer, nor as hard-hitting, gritty, and high stakes as Sam Mendes’s Spectre will surely be; a disappointing fact, perhaps because a solid mix of the two is sort of what we were all expecting with Guy Ritchie behind the camera.
Nonetheless, while the film may not have been enough to outdo the highly anticipated Mission Impossible sequel at the box office, it was a truly fun and enjoyable movie, and one that the whole family can enjoy. I would like to hope that this new ensemble of young actors and relative blockbuster newbie Ritchie are just finding their footing for now, and that this will be the start of a quite enjoyable, if lighthearted, spy series.