I have to admit I was a bit worried when I saw the Man from U.N.C.L.E. coming so soon on the heels of a Mission Impossible release. Much like Mission Impossible. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a spy movie adapted from a popular TV show. Unlike Mission Impossible, I never saw the show. If I had, I probably would have noticed how truly different the two films are.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is centered around the CIA in the early 60s. It has the bright, playful technicolor feel that was so popular in the 60s, setting it off as different from the beginning. Henry Cavill plays Napoleon Solo, a former master-thief blackmailed by the CIA (represented by a nasty-raspy Jared Harris) into becoming a secret agent. Cavill is a debonair womanizer who wears thousand dollar suits and delivers smart aleck lines with perfect timing. He’s a play on old school James Bond, but with a bit less tension. He’s partnered up with Illya Kuryakin, a former KGB agent who has flipped sides in order to fight a nuclear armed organization.
The characters were caricatures but in this movie, that’s a good thing. The whole thing has a bit of a cartoony feel and it’s pretty clear that Guy Richie was having a lot of fun playing with the clichés. It’s a movie that celebrates the cliché to the highest order, making it clear that’s it’s laughing at itself.
This is a hard thing to pull off, but they managed to do so pretty cleanly. The movie hits just about every major cliché an action franchise can, from love interest in trouble, to mismatched buddy comedy, to evil genius bent on world domination. This is all done in a tongue in cheek style that tells you the makers knew exactly what they were doing and still managed to give it a newer twist.
Much of that had to do with the talent of the leads, both of which were played true to character. While I think the female lead could have been done better, the two males pretty much define the word “mismatched”. It’s like the odd couple joined the CIA.
I do have to say this is a clear attempt to create a new franchise, and I really don’t think that’s necessary. While a good movie, the gimmick will feel tired a second time around. It’s a joke that’s hilarious the first time you heard it, but not so great the second.
That’s not to say that this movie isn’t worth the watch. It’s a fun exciting romp that redefines the espionage movie and makes fun of the genre at the same time. The retro 60s feel added something special to the movie and the clever use of color gave this movie a vibrant, stylish feel.
It’s a fun movie, with great characters and an easy to follow premise. While it’s clearly been done and timed in order to capitalize on the success of the Mission Impossible franchise, it doesn’t feel like the same thing. It’s a new twist on an old genre.
WE GAVE IT: 3.5 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!