It’s a damn shame that Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” will be widely disregarded as dismissed as one of the many failed attempts to build a cinematic adventure out of a beloved TV show. Though I’ve never seen the original series, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” was such a stylish and brutally entertaining adaptation that always kept me smiling with its engaging characters and dazzling action. The trio of Alicia Vikander, Henry Cavil, and Armie Hammer are magnetic and explosive as a mismatched mod squad of spies and agents, all of whom from vastly different backgrounds. To work toward ending the potential threat of nuclear war, they have to find common ground with one another.
This leads to a really raucous action thriller, where literally everyone is on their game, and have to work towards learning to work with each other, despite their inherent mistrust and xenophobia. Ritchie is usually a very sharp and fantastic director, and he brings a lot of visual flourishes and brisk pacing to “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” often preventing it from feeling like a creaky and old spy film. Ritchie could very well have turned this big screen treatment in to another clone of “Mission Impossible,” but instead opts for a more vintage character based action film. Every character are quick with the one-liners, run around dressed in sharp suits and tuxedos, and still manage to look suave even when getting their hands dirty.
Henry Cavil and Armie Hammer work wonders as the unlikely duo of competing agents from vastly different backgrounds. Forced to work together, they convey a very unique dynamic that’s fun to see unfold. Cavil, despite being the American CIA agent is very suave and charismatic, while Hammer does a wonderful job as Illya Kuryakin, the rough and tumble KGB operative adds a bit more substance with his tortured past. Though the buddy cop aesthetic is old hat, Cavil and Hammer keep the film afloat, along with the great supporting turn by Alicia Vikander who as the enigmatic Gaby Teller.
Though the film is more polished than previous Ritchie cinematic offerings, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” still garners a lot of Ritchie’s erratic energy and brisk pacing, which compliments the international intrigue action and mystery. Ritchie’s version of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” may not be no holds barred masterpiece like “The Fugitive” but it is a fun, light, and stylish spy thriller with top notch performances from the entire cast. It surely warrants an audience that appreciates the flavor it brings to the sub-genre of television adaptations.
Featured on the Blu-Ray/DVD release is “Spy Vision” an eight minute look at how director Ritchie and producer Wigram discuss their inspirations for the aesthetic of the film including costumes, and what not. There’s also talk about props, location, and the various vehicles. “A Higher Class of Hero” is a seven minute look at the challenge of creating the action sequences and trying to make them seem original and unique.
“Métisse Motorcycles: Proper—and Very British” is a five minute visit with Gerry Lisi, who helped make the Metisse motorcycles featured in the film. “The Guys from U.N.C.L.E.” is a five minute rundown of the careers of Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. “A Man of Extraordinary Talents” is a three minute look at the work of Guy Ritchie. Finally, there’s “U.N.C.L.E.: On-Set Spy,” a five minute series of short segments that look at various nuances of the production. There are segments like “You Want to Wrestle?” and “Don’t Swim Elegantly.” You can choose to view all, or separately.