[Last Film I Watch] The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
Title: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Country: USA, UK
Language: English, German, Italian, Russian
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Director: Guy Ritchie
David C. Wilson
Music: Daniel Pemberton
Cinematography: John Mathieson
Marianna Di Martino
2015 appears to be a banner year for spy films, we have already seen two original vehicles, Matthew Vaughn’s slick veteran-and-newbie paired-up KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2014), and Paul Feig’s Melissa McCarthy headliner SPY (2015), subverts the established stereotypes in gender, in looks and in its tones, then two successful sequels of money-grubbing long-lasting franchises across the Atlantic Ocean, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION (2015) and the latest 007 SPECTRE (2015). So what makes Guy Ritchie’s spin-off of the titular 1960s TV series distinguishes among them?
Firstly the enchanting flair of swinging 60s, hits the right spot of our nostalgia with Italy as the main location, stunning scenography of the vintage hotel rooms, automobiles and haute couture, plus the four leads’ multiplied sex appeal, Guy Ritchie had it all to make a crowd-pleaser. But he didn’t, according to its underwhelmed box-office performance (a worldwide 100 million dollars gross income against a 75 million dollars price tag is a far cry to call it profitable), audience might find it eccentric since the movie doesn’t rely on mind-blowing action pieces to bombard viewers’ expectation of this genre, and the humour vs. seriousness apathy is too confusing for broad appeal.
In any rate, the film is a stylish innovator, two top spies of CIA and KGB, Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Hammer), are reluctantly teamed together to investigate a criminal organisation headed by an Italian villainess Victoria Vinciguerra (Debicki, her family name literally means “win war”, and the family is an old associate of Nazis), for privately producing nuclear weapon, through Gaby Teller (Vikander), whose father is a former Nazi scientist now reported missing, but in secret, held hostage by Victoria and her hubby Alexander (Calvani). With their respective ulterior motives known to spectators (they can kill each other if necessary), Solo and Illya ladle out their deadpan banters and unpredictable behaviours during their dangerous mission, which gives off a refreshing air to erase the tedium of the modern high-tech routine. Gaby is not the corny "good bond girl” type, a double agent subplot gives her the edge to outperform her male co-stars, and Victoria is also not in the default mode of a femme fatale, she is ruthless from A to Z and never fall into Solo’s charm except for her own cocksure confidence.
All four actors are beautiful creatures designed for big screen panache and glamour, although the same cannot be said to Hugh Grant’s Alexander Waverly, the head of the U.N.C.L.E. organisation, in a way, Guy Ritchie sanguinely toys with the unimpressive story development and puts a mien of insouciance and repeatedly deploys several anti-climaxes to label the film with his own signature, fairly speaking, it leans more towards a male-bonding comedy than a white-knuckle action-er, at least, it is unexpectedly satisfactory for my taste.
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