This year is apparently very good for spies. Rogue Nation still in theaters, Spectre and Bridge of Spies coming soon, and now this movie giving us a taste of the classic 60s spy thrillers.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. brings together a CIA agent and a KGB operative to take down a criminal organization with nuclear capability. Will it make you cry for more or cry “Uncle”? Well, let’s take a look at the trailer and find out.
So who stars in this movie? Henry Cavill from Man of Steel plays the CIA’s Napoleon Solo. Armie Hammer of The Lone Ranger is the KGB’s Illya Kuryakin. Alicia Vikander of Seventh Son and Ex Machina plays Gaby, and the villainous Victoria is Elizabeth Debicki of The Great Gatsby. This is starting to feel like a Based on the Trailer reunion post.
The director is Guy Ritchie, the man who brought us the Sherlock Holmes films and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. The man is a great director of popcorn movies, infusing his work with adrenaline-pumping action and lots of humor, so expect nothing less from this film.
The trailer begins with Napoleon Solo showing off his psychic abilities by knowing without looking that they’re being followed by one guy who’s watching them and has one hand on the steering wheel. Fortunately, he packed a pistol and silencer in his lunch, so Solo shoots first at their pursuer, Illya. They get a head start, but Illya apparently has Matrix-like bullet-avoiding skills. He chases them, the two cars go out dancing, and Solo and Gaby go down a narrow alley, escaping despite getting stuck. If they’d only had the Batmobile, they could have ejected the sides and they wouldn’t have had that problem.
We see that it’s 1963, the middle of the Cold War, and Solo’s boss tells him about a criminal organization connected to former Nazis. Nazis; I hate these guys. They’re hiding out on an island and they’ve got an atom bomb, so it’s time for the CIA to take them down. Unfortunately, they need help from the KGB, which doesn’t sit well with either of our agents. They’re left alone to “get acquainted,” but all they accomplish is the demolishing of a few bathroom stalls.
We’re finally introduced to our heroes. Napoleon Solo is “the CIA’s most effective agent.” By which we mean most cold-blooded killer, since he shoots two people without a trace of remorse. Once, he even snapped a guy’s neck. Illya is the youngest man to join the KGB, and three years later, he was their top agent. He’s great at motorbike riding, sniping, and hand-to-hand combat. And also destroying public restrooms, because they’re still going at that. Guys, take a breather already! “Things could get a little messy,” says Solo. Not because I’m teaming up with a partner I hate; I brought along a sandwich with a lot of Italian dressing.
The two agents prepare to infiltrate a secret base, and they both tell each other they work better alone. Unless the partner is an attractive woman like the one we saw Solo not working alone with earlier. Speaking of which, she’s on the team now, and they head to Italy to spy on Victoria. The lady criminal asks how Solo got an invitation to her party. Victoria, if you’re a criminal genius, you ought to at least keep track of your party guest list. Solo admits that he stole it and that he’s a thief. “I hope you wear a mask,” says Victoria. “Sometimes,” Solo tells her. “Just never when I’m stealing things.” So why does he wear a mask? Because he’s Batman!
Illya randomly throat-punches a guy, leading Solo to comment, “You’re not very good at this whole subtlety thing, are you?” Don’t insult the guy who throws motorcycles at people. The KGB agent knocks a guy upside the head, leaving him unconscious but upright. “He’ll be like this for twenty minutes,” says Illya. “Can’t touch.” I want to make sure he gets a good undisturbed rest. Gaby dances to rock and roll music, but Illya isn’t a fan. “Don’t make me put you over my knee,” he threatens. “So you want to wrestle,” says Gaby, and proceeds to throw him to the ground and straddle him. Now I’m just thinking about pro wrestlers “fighting” like this and getting very uncomfortable.
Solo and Illya go out riding dune buggies, a random man seems to really enjoy getting electrocuted, and a random woman walks through the room in her underwear. I’m sure that scene will be very important to the plot in the actual movie. Someone launches a missile, and Illya and Solo climb onto a boat to escape the bad guys. “Hold on, cowboy!” Illya shouts, and Solo promptly falls out of the boat. Smooth. A truck drives off the dock onto a boat, and one of Solo’s associates says, “For a special agent, you’re not having a very special day.” Which is sad, because it’s his birthday. And the trailer ends with Solo holding up a pair of high heels and asking Underwear Woman, “Do these belong to you or to me?” I really don’t want to know what missions require you to wear high heels, Solo.
So based on the trailer, do I recommend this movie? Sort of. It’s action-packed, stylish, and has a great cast. On the other hand, it feels to me as though it’s lacking the substance that makes me want to watch it. The characters look cool and say smooth things, but is there anything relatable underneath? Of course, not everyone needs that, and it does look like a fun spy thriller, so if that’s all you want, you’ll probably love this movie. Personally, I’ll probably wait until it comes out on DVD.
But let me know if someone cashes in on the spy movie craze with a Lancelot Link or Secret Squirrel movie. I’m down for that.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is owned by Warner Bros.