By Laurie Coker
The Man From Uncle is my favorite film so far this year – not because its stars are so sexy and good looking, but because co-writer (with Lionel Wigram) and director Guy Ritchie offers a fresh, fun, retro reworking of a beloved 1960’s television show of the same name with characters made famous by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum. Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill are pure pleasure to watch. Spot on dialogue keeps pace with high excitement action sequences and an amusing story.
Cavill plays CIA operative Napoleon Solo opposite Hammer as KGB agent Illya Kuryakin reprising the well-known (at least by baby boomers and slightly beyond) characters. Set in the 60’s, The Man From Uncle is a film that takes us back in time to a world of sinister villains, a sexy, strong damsel (Alicia Vikander) and incredibly handsome, droll and dashing heroes. Crazy car chases, games of cat and mouse and dueling spies bring suspense and surprises. The story is simple enough, an evil villainess (Elizabeth Debicki) and a big bomb – and the covert operatives determined to put a stop to her and her weird helpers.
Hammer and Cavill have perfect on screen chemistry and their body language and sharp banter garner laughs. Both men bring their own flair to his their characters. Cavill sports classy tailored suits and Hammer, whose character has a bit of a temper and almost super human strength, wears more casual attire. They afford a great deal of beefcake for the ladies and machismo for the men. Vikander is pretty, petite and powerful, as Gabby Teller, the daughter of a vanished German scientists. The otherwise competing men have to join forces to protect their charge and save the precariously perched (think Cold War) planet from annihilation, by a secret international organization bent on selling a nuclear bomb. Boom!!
Hugh Grant also stars, as Waverly, the CIA operative who will eventually handle the trio of spies. The writing is exciting, the soundtrack notably memorable and the cast shines brightly. The story may be nearly substance free, but in Ritchie’s hands with this cast, The Man From Uncle, does what films should do – entertain unabashedly. It’s campy, without any crassness, cute without being sappy and creative in delivery in every way.
Rated PG-13, The Man From Uncle pays wonderful homage to its super popular namesake. We need more, and in the end, we are not so indirectly promised more. With Ritchie at the helm I see a long running series of thrilling, comedic adventures as our heroes team up again and again. I am placing an A in my grade book. The leading men alone are worth the cost of a ticket. HOT!