The Man From U.N.C.L.E – a well-crafted pastiche or an unexciting spin on the 60’s show?
Set against the height of the Cold War, an American and a Soviet agent must put aside their natural distrust of each other to defeat a terrorist syndicate with the potential to produce nuclear bombs. Guy Ritchie at the helm, Superman Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin, this remake of the 60’s TV show has all the right ingredients to shine…
Right from the opening titles and thrilling set piece of the first 15 minutes, Guy Ritchie’s distinctive production style can be seen. The slickness of scene changes and riveting soundtrack are a reminder of Ritchie’s previous films Snatch and Sherlock Holmes, but with the sophistication of Ocean’s Eleven. Both Cavill and Hammer fight for their corner as their respective government agents, with Hammer’s stiff and grumpy Russian particularly entertaining. Cavill’s Napoleon Solo comes across as just a little too caddish (think an American version of Roger Moore’s James Bond) but still suave enough to be thoroughly likeable. With cameos from Hugh Grant and Jared Harris, the cast is not without its Hollywood dynamism.
Remakes seem to be Hollywood’s stock-in-trade at the moment, it seems to be done purely for coin, but sometimes there is a value in recreating a certain nostalgia. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a good example of the latter, taking an original idea from the 60’s that most are familiar with and giving it a modern Ritchie sparkle. Whilst all the ingredients are there, the outcome isn’t quite as thrilling as one might hope. Aside from the chemistry of Cavill and Hammer, the characters feel largely bland and uninvolving. There are some darker plot undertones to retain a level of tension, but a few amusing lines and set pieces are thrown in for good measure to even things out.
The ending sets up the promise of a future sequel and if they can build on the current formula they may well end up with a bigger, bolder blockbuster ironing out the current flaws to truly recreate the thrilling sentiment of the original series.
Author – Steve, Bristol store
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