CGB Review of The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2015)

Henry Cavil, you’re suave and cool, but you ARE allowed to express emotion!

This is my review of The Man from U.N.C.L.E!


The Man from U.N.C.L.E is based on the 1960’s TV show of the same name.  Henry Cavil, who you may remember as Superman from Man of Steel, plays an American agent named Napolean Solo (who is not related to Hans Solo), who must team up with a Russian agent named Illya Kuryakin, played by Armie Hammer.  Solo and Kuryakin must protect Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) in order to find her scientist father and prevent a cataclysmic global event.

Halfway through this movie, it occurred to me that the filmmakers were going for an Ant Man/Guardians of the Galaxy spy flick, but those two movies have two major ingredients that are missing from The Man from U.N.C.L.E: A consistent quirkly tone and characters with three-dimensional personalities.  Sometimes Man from U.N.C.L.E wants to be an action comedy and other times it wants to be a spy thriller.

The Hits
This movie really should have been called “Fun Things To Do With A Camera: The Movie.”  There are some very impressive shots and nicely-choreographed action sequences.  I was especially entertained by one scene where Solo and Kuryakin are trying to escape while on a boat.  Also the witty banter between the characters is well-delivered and the funniest scenes were when one character would do something mundane like eat a sandwich while another character fights off danger in the background.  For the most part, the saavy 60’s humor got me to chuckle.
However I happen to be a child of the 90’s watching a 2015 film that tries to recapture the essence of a 60’s TV show.  The end result: I took three short naps during the movie.

The Misses
Why does Hollywood always resort to expositonal dialogue?!  There has got to be a smoother way to deliver information about the characters.  I know that if I walked up to a good friend of mine and said, “Hey such-n-such, who moved here from the great state of blank fifteen years ago!  How are you? Tell me, did you fail that test because you didn’t study or because you’re harboring a dark secret that will factor into the plot later…” my friend would probably ask me if I had lost my marbles, to which I would reply, “Yes, I have lost my marbles after sitting through Man from UNCLE!”  Hey, Hollywood screenwriters, people don’t explain each other’s backstories in real life.
My biggest issue with the movie is that because everyone is trying to imitate James Bond, they all look completely uninvested in what they’re doing. I have no problem with Henry Cavil being a calm and collected, but if he’s not going to show some fear when he’s drugged or act like he’s in some kind of pain when he is being electrocuted, then why should I feel concerned for his survival?  Alicia Vikander looks inconvienced half of the time, as if she got dragged into the movie by her agent.  If the characters never become passionate about what they’re trying to accomplish, then why should the audience?

I wish I had more to say, but honestly, Man from U.N.C.L.E is a functional, passable popcorn flick that you’re not going to remember after the credits roll.  If you enjoy the original 60’s show and can appreciate modern films that attempt to recapture the time period, then you’ll probably enjoy this movie.  As for me, I’d rather just watch Guardians of the Galaxy on Blue-Ray or wait for Ant Man to come out on DVD.

Saint Barbara, pray for us.

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