Movie Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

August is what I like to refer to as the “Cable Movie Month” for releases: most of the movies are solid, but they lack that “Wow!” factor that most summer movies have. They make great background noise entertainment as you do something else while it plays on the television. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is that movies in spades.

The trailer for Man from U.N.C.L.E. definitely sold a sexier movie than the one I saw in theaters. I also had NO IDEA that Guy Ritchie was at the helm of this flick. Even during the run-time I couldn’t tell you who the director could be, that is just how vanilla The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is.

To be fair, there is some great comic book panel-type work that plays well in action scenes and helps mask the utter cheapness that sits at the edges of the film. Made for an estimated $75 million one supposes that Ritchie spent all that money on sexy locations and great clothes for all the main characters and villains of the film.

1960's Movie Checklist: Sexy Clothes? Check. Sexy Locales? Check. Sexy People? Check.
1960’s Movie Checklist:
Sexy Clothes? Check.
Sexy Locales? Check.
Sexy People? Check.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E., based on the ‘60’s television series of the same name, and from the geriatric laden crowd in attendance when I went to the movie theater this weekend…was the main audience of this film. As I stated earlier, I came for the sexy spy film that is teased in the trailer, and I was GREATLY disappointed that that really wasn’t the case with the movie.

According to good ol’ Wikipedia, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was supposed to be a Tom Cruise starring jam, and it reeks of the kind of middling end of summer film that he would get up to in the odd years between his bigger blockbusters. He would’ve elevated The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with his Cruise-like powers of riding a motorcycle in a few scenes, running around sexy locations in a sexy suit, climbing sexy architectural marvel buildings in a sexy suit and other cliché ass Tom Cruise things that fill his movies. Instead, we settle for Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo, gentleman spy.

Cavill is the only actor in this film that I really liked. Illya Kuryakin, played by  Armie Hammer, who pretty much does the only thing he’s good at, being a straight man, and Alicia Vikander as “the girl” is cute and does what she can with what little she’s given. Cavill seems to be the only one having a real good time.

I may be the only reviewer that found Napoleon Solo’s aloofness endearing and infinitely watchable. Apparently he also saw the same trailer I did and somehow been ripped out of that and jammed in to this by-the-numbers spy movie with the same tired twists and supremely uninteresting villains with a rigid ass boring plans as far as that goes. I was half surprised they didn’t have a scene wherein the villainess held the world hostage for one million dollars or some trite bullshit.

The biggest problem that I had with this film, surprisingly, came from Jared Harris’ American accent. It’s fucking atrocious. Perhaps he was trying to impersonate the television series Saunders character or be in that campy movie that Henry Cavill thought he was starring in, but it just doesn’t work. On top of that his pronunciations are off as well, with been persistently being pronounced “BEAN”. I guess we can chock this one up as a paycheck for an otherwise great British actor.

Unintentional comedy is unintentional.
Unintentional comedy is unintentional.

Astonishingly enough with four credited writers, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. doesn’t have any tonal issues, and manages to only bog down in a few spots. They’ll be completely unnoticeable to the cable movie crowd, and more than likely truncated for run time and more commercials.

Ritchie as director-for-hire one would think he would lend more of his visual language to the film. Maybe his “influence” on younger directors is such now that even he is indistinguishable from your run of the mill director-for-hire as nothing in this film particularly stands out.

The use of the comic book style panels are used to great effect at the end of the film as both Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), descend on the villains’ compound (naturally) they essentially montage the entire event. Stylistically it’s kind of cool and essentially works as a fast forward to the films denouement. Nevertheless, realistically looks like they hired MAYBE six people to play bad guys, and they plainly use them repeatedly in various shots.

The biggest problem of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is that is doesn’t pick a side and stay there. Is it a campy romp reminiscent of its source material, or is it a Guy Ritchie movie with modern overtones set in the 1960’s because of the source material? Which is very well why it wound up in the middling vanilla graveyard of an August instead of the bombastic awesome flavor of July? Doomed to live out the rest of its days as a cable movie mainstay played as background noise to folding laundry or midday sex romps.

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Movie Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

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