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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. | Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Dibecki, Hugh Grant | Review

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2sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is BAD Judy Thorburn

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2lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is BAD

 

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Film adaptations of iconic TV shows never seem to do justice to the classic series from which they are based. The Avengers, Get Smart, I Spy, The Saint, The Wild Wild West and others were major disappointments.  You can now add to that growing list, the comedy spy caper, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. based on the popular TV series of the same name that ran from 1964-1968 starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum.

Henry Cavill (Man of Steal) fills the shoes of Vaughn's dashing, cool and collected ladies man, American spy Napolean Solo and taking over McCallum's role as his KGB counterpart, Ilya Kuryakin is Armie Hammer, complete with faux Russian accent whose character is now a handsome, stone faced, big brute (at 6'5” he is referred to as “giant”) with anger issues, prone to throwing things whenever he loses his temper.

Set in 1963, at the height of the cold war and the nuclear arms race, the films starts off with an effective action packed opening sequence that has master thief Napoleon Solo, who has been forced to work for the CIA in exchange for staying out of prison, on a mission to extract an attractive female car mechanic, Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander, Swede, who doesn't event attempt a German accent) out of East Berlin, while his Russian rival, Kurykin is determined to stop him in his tracks.

Soon after, the two agents are presented with a mission, if they choose to accept it...oops, wrong movie. To rephrase, the duo are “ordered” by their bosses to put their animosity for the other aside and team up on a joint American/Soviet mission to find Gaby's father Dr. Uber Teller (Christian Berkel) said to be “Hitler's favorite scientist”.  It appears he has been kidnapped and coerced into building a nuclear bomb for a criminal international organization led by tall and model skinny, uber rich Italian Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Dibecki, looking very much like Paris Hilton), described as a lethal combo of beauty, brains and ambition. Gaby is the key to helping the spies infiltrate Victoria's organization that is scheming with neo Nazis intent on using the bomb to obtain world domination.  Victoria's assistant is Gaby's Uncle Rudi (Sylvester Groth, Inglorious Basterds) a sadistic Nazi doctor that gets his jollies inflicting fear and pain onto his victims.

As part of their operation, the spies take on new identities, which includes Kuryakin posing as an architect and Gaby as his fiance. But first, the young woman who is used to wearing coveralls and having her face covered in dirt and grime, is given a makeover, complete with new hair do, jewelry, and a wardrobe of expensive, trendy, mod fashions so she can easily fit into the world of the elite and hip, upper class populated by, you guessed it, the villainous Victoria, her race car driver husband, Alexander, (Luca Calvani) and their cronies.

Guy Ritchie, who directed the film from a script he wrote with his producing partner Lionel Wigram brings the initial premise of rival, polar opposite spies that team up to work for the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E.) to the big screen, but in doing so, as usual, he concentrates on style rather than substance, and that doesn't cut it.

Ritchie's Bond-esque globe trotting spy caper doesn't take itself seriously and as such he has filled it with irreverent, often twisted humor. Unfortunately, most of the action sequences are captured using dizzying camera work that has your head spinning. As for the rival agents, they spend much of the time together trading barbs, smart ass remarks at each other or arguing (I kid you not) over fashion dos and donts.

Pretty boy Cavill, in his tailored suits, looks like he stepped out of GQ, but is stiff and recites his lame dialogue in a staccato fashion, as if reading from cue cards.  It doesn't help that he and Hammer, who is stuck in glum mode, are one note and have zip chemistry. Vikander (a far cry from her mysterious sexy, manipulative robot in Ex Machina) has little to do other than acting cute, and flirting with her fake fiance.

The only thing this movie version has going for it are the pretty cast, retro fashions, and exotic international locations of Berlin and Italy. Other than that, the film is pretentious, silly and void of an interesting plot, any real intrigue, suspense or charm.

By the time Hugh Grant makes a brief appearance as Waverly, the British head of U.N.C.L.E. (originally played by Leo G. Carroll), I was already bored, lost interest, and couldn't care less.

That said, in the hands of Richie, who also directed Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and other flashy, but empty films, this reboot of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is yet another misfire.

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