HOLLYWOOD—Rarely does a popular TV series transform well on the big screen, but “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” introduces audiences to a new level of fun. The original series followed two secret agents who tackled international missions for the secret organization known as UNCLE (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement).
That TV classic has gotten the feature film adaptation thanks to director Guy Ritchie. Ritchie has showcased his talents behind the camera with crime capers like “Sherlock Holmes” (2009) and “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” (2011) both starring Robert Downey Jr.
Tackling the role of dueling agents forced to work together in this adaptation is CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). Cavill and Hammer actually have palatable chemistry together on screen which makes it fun watching the two characters go toe-to-toe. Hammer does indeed outshine his counterpart to a degree because he just exhibits a bit more vitality into his character than Cavill does.
Hammer’s Russian accent is to die for and delivers plenty of zingers in the spy comedy that alludes to various elements of the “James Bond” and “Mission Impossible” franchises; the audience is treated to that spy element, while also seeing high-tech gadgetry and intricate chase sequences.
Without giving away too many plot details, Solo and Kuryakin (who are enemies) are forced to work together to rescue the German father of Gaby Teller portrayed by the beautiful and charming Alicia Vikander. Kuryakin is forced to put on the disguise of being Gaby’s fiancé in his quest to locate her father who has gone MIA. He’s not happy with the plan, but is willing to go through with it.
As charming as Vikander is, femme fatale Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki) proves to be a bit of a thorn in Solo and Kuryakin’s plan. It’s a nice departure to see a female mesh into the role of villain and seductress at the same time. While the character isn’t as layered as one would hope, she does present a nice distraction from the slight tedium at times. The female players in the flick are just as important as their male counterparts; for once they’re not just characters who are simply eye-candy, even though that trope is utilized in the flick.
Ritchie does a reasonable job taking the material from a famed series and crafting a movie that is quite entertaining for the audience. Is it 100 percent unique and original? Not quite, but it does an effective job of giving the viewers a different take on the espionage thriller by intertwining comedy, action and sex in a way that isn’t too over-the-top and hokey.
“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” will be compared to other great espionage spy flicks, but as a viewer one has to appreciate the collaborative effort that has been made to deliver a film that is not only entertaining, but quite surprising to say the least.