Friday, August 14, 2015

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.


Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debecki, Jared Harris, Hugh Grant

Rated PG-13 for Action Violence, Some Suggestive Content, and Partial Nudity

Was there any real demand for this movie?  I mean, of all the classic TV shows that Warner Bros. could hope to turn into a franchise, they picked this?  Half the people haven't even heard of the show (myself included), and it only ran for four years.  And the Cold War isn't exactly a relevant topic in movies these days.  To be fair, it could have been some breezy summer fun, except for the laughable script and the self-indulgence by Guy Ritchie.

Debonair American black marketer-turned-spy Napoleon Solo (Cavill) is tasked with getting a mechanic named Gaby (Vikander) out of East Germany.  Trying to stop them is KGB agent Ilya Kurakin (Hammer), a giant of a man with a bad past and anger problems.  The super suave Napoleon succeeds in his mission (while humiliating Ilya in the process), only to find that his mission isn't done.  Gaby's father has developed a technique that makes enriching uranium for nuclear weapons much easier.  The bad news is that he's been kidnapped by the inheritors of a shipping company, who are using it as a cover for nefarious means.  Napoleon is assigned to use Gaby to get him out.  Also helping him guessed it: Ilya.

I feel bad for the actors.  All of them are underrated, but they are ill-served by a worthless script.  The script's few amusing moments are successful mainly because of the actors (the look on Ilya's face when he finds out he's working with Napoleon is priceless).  Henry Cavill is solid as the low-rent James Bond (a part that, ironically, he auditioned for), but he lacks the charisma necessary to pull this off.  Ditto for Armie Hammer, who is kept too low-key.  Alicia Vikander, who has had a coming out this year, does what she can, but she's mainly a plot device.  The only one who is worth mentioning is Elizabeth Debecki, who plays Victoria, the lead villain.  She uses her eyes and thin frame to great effect; Victoria is seductive, serpentine, and dangerous.

Guy Ritchie is a pretty well-known name (due in no small part to his marriage to Madonna and his directing of the "Sherlock Holmes" movies), but his fame is generally undeserved.  He's not Uwe Boll, but his style is too hip for it's own good.  He does too many edits and cheesy camera tricks.  It's meant to make the film more energetic, which I suppose it does.  The downside is that there's so much of it that it's hard to focus on the story or the characters.  A good filmmaker knows when to use restraint, and sadly, Guy Ritchie doesn't.

The more I think about this movie, the less I like it.  Action movie junkies would do best to wait for something else.  Considering Hollywood's obsession for "event movies," it's not going to be long before another one comes out.

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