It has been all the rage to remake or reboot everything these days. There have been some successful classic TV shows that have transitioned well, but more of them that have failed miserably. The latest getting the treatment is the 1960s series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. that features Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Hugh Grant taking on the classic roles and Guy Ritchie leading the charge in the director’s chair, but can it succeed in bringing this spy drama to the big screen or will it reignite the Cold War?
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. follows CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin who participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons in the 1960s. The trailers for this film have been underwhelming, but with such a great cast including co-stars Elizabeth Debicki, Alicia Vikander, and Jared Harris there had to be more to it. While there is a generic feel to it on some level it still manages to entertain on numerous levels to create a fun spy action film. One of the first things they got right to set this film apart is keeping it based in the 60s as opposed to trying to update it in some silly modern setting. This adds a whole element to the film in the visuals, style and tone that makes you feel like you are seeing something fresh. Everyone in the cast do a great job, but it is Cavill who really chews up the screen with not only his swagger, but the perfect vocal tone and attitude for the character. He is quite fun to watch and in turn more entertaining than most of these sorts of characters. Armie Hammer is a pure machine and lacks a lot of emotion, but that is by design and plays it perfectly. Their chemistry, both good and bad is a bit hit and miss, but they are no doubt fun to watch together. Hugh Grant has the least amount of screen time but is perfectly cast in the film and cements his place in this world should it deliver more chapters.
Most of the trailers never showed a lot of action, but for those hoping to get more than another spy mystery you can rest easy as they throw down the action in droves. There are plenty of gun fights, fight scenes and car chases that are all well executed and fun to watch while serving as the glue to keep the rest of the story connected. The story itself is clichéd and never feels like it is as much of a threat as they want you to think, but it is so fun to watch it almost doesn’t matter. While there is a lot of diabolical villainous happenings the film is fused with witty banter between the characters and actual laugh out loud moments that help it to stand out more than it might have had it played completely serious. To be clear this is not a comedy or a spoof. The humor comes naturally due to the behavior and circumstances they are in and helps to keep you engaged at all times while making it feel like something that might have been made in the 60s with the modern action backdrop.
This is one of those films that seem to try and keep true to the original series while still being its own thing. Who knows how fans of the original series will react to it, but whether you have seen it or not they have crafted something that needs no knowledge of the source material, but for those in the know will enjoy some little surprises.