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The Man From UNCLE Review: stylish lack of substance

The Man From UNCLE is a fizzy and stylish spy adventure boasting charismatic and groovy leads that deter focus from the limp narrative to their tangible chemistry.

The Man From UNCLE finds former criminal and current CIA Agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) teaming up with KGB Agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to protect Gabby Teller (Alicia Vikander) whilst tracking down a shadowy corporation intent on manufacturing and using their own nuclear warhead.

Direction – C

Guy Ritchie

Guy Ritchie, the man behind Snatch and Sherlock Holmes, does an incredibly fun job with a rather limping script and narrative. He is, as always, fast and quippy with his characters and action, never really allowing for a moments rest. Sometimes, this leads to characters, which are supposed to be charming and hilarious, missing the mark with their retorts and punchlines. But when it matters, Ritchie’s direction on The Man From UNCLE is not only signature Ritchie but also wicked when it needs to be.

Acting – C

Armie Hammer's Illy Kuryakin in The Man From UNCLE

Make no mistake, The Man From UNCLE is by no means a thespian masterclass. But its’ leads, Cavill, Vikander and Hammer have incredibly chemistry. Cavill, despite being a budding star, feels like a veteran performer and exudes the confidence one would expect from a Ritchie frontman. Vikander is fun and bubbly in her role but it is Hammer that steals the show. He does have the most layered character and the best backstory and that certainly helps, but Hammer, sporting a deep Russian accent, is ticking and engrossing and KGB Agent Kuryakin.

Story – D+

Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill in The Man From UNCLE

For all the appeal of UNCLE, the story really is pretty simple. The initial jolt and jolly of seeing Russians and Americans work together wears off really fast. Why? Because it becomes yet another spy film about hunting down something nuclear to prevent a huge explosion. Admittedly, Ritchie endorses some smart editing and subterfuge to spice up an otherwise bland script but it is subterfuge at the end of the day.

The Man From UNCLE isn’t the thrilling action film many would think it to be. it is a macho film brimming and overflowing with bravado and charisma with Ritchie having real fun with his leads despite a typical and not-quite-boring plot.

Score – C-


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