THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Official Synopsis: In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: Guy Ritchie (screenplay), Lionel Wigram (screenplay)
Stars: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. film adaptation of the 1960's television spy series is pretty much a filmmaking class on how to properly do films based on old television series. Director Guy Ritchie brings exciting stylized visuals and action sequences on a modern wide-screen scale. Set in the early years of the Cold War (the early 1960s) the plot is a wry convolution of spy vs spy vs spy as the mysterious and deadly Soviet spy Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) is paired up with unflappable American rival Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) to stop a nuclear bomb from getting in the wrong hands. The film sweeps in and out of tense action sequences, beautiful locations, explosions, and more plot-twisting and plot-turning than your average summer movie. The film also delivers legitimately funny moments throughout which lends an air of fun to the proceedings without ever diving into jokes and gags.
Cavill's suave, dry Solo is charming and brilliant. Hammer's Kuryakin is equally brilliant but has protective stoic walls in place as high and as girded as the Berlin Wall itself. Their chemistry onscreen as partners and rivals perfectly translates the chemistry of the characters (and actors) from the television series without doing impressions. The smartest thing to do in an adaptation like this is to give a modern flair to the storytelling but stay true to the characters, even if you add some new bits to their backgrounds, which they do in this "origin" story. What Ritchie gets so right is that the point of adapting a beloved old television series (or even a comic book like THE FANTASTIC FOUR) is not to go meta on it or give it a new "twist" or try to darken it up or lighten it up. There is a reason why characters stay in the public consciousness and that is because the public likes them and is interested in them. When adapting them into a film, then the audience should expect the characters to at least "feel" right. In THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., Ritchie has distilled the essence of the show's tone and what makes these characters connect with the audience.
As far as I'm concerned this was about as flawless of a television series adaptation as I've ever seen. THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. is my favorite movie of the summer hands down! Cannot wait to go see it again.
*Not that it really matters in the scheme of things, but I did not notice a single instance of swearing or even coarse language throughout the entire movie. For those parents who are concerned about that sort of thing, this is a pretty clean movie for a spy movie with a little implied sex and some well-done torture and kill moments.