Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a safe and slick, but hardly exciting or smart, film that understands the style and buoyancy of the 1960s television show.
The origins of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement are finally brought to the big screen in this new adaptation in which America and Russia are forced to work together during the height of the Cold War.
C.I.A. agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) crosses the Berlin Wall at Check Point Charlie and is followed by K.G.B. spy Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). The resolute and indomitable Russian almost prevents the suave and irrepressible American from extracting, Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), the daughter of a German scientist, from the East.
However, the trio are reunited, by their respective governments, and forced to cooperate on a combined mission to thwart an international fascist organization, which is bent on manufacturing atomic warheads, with the help of Gabby’s missing father, Dr. Udo Teller.
With several other pushes from MI5 commander Alexander Waverley (Hugh Grant), and assistance from the Royal Navy and the Special Boat Service, Solo and Kuryakin join forces to end the nefarious plans with very little difficulty indeed.
Ritchie takes an admirable shot at giving U.N.C.L.E. and its two most famous operatives a back-story, only to give into rudimentary action-movie paradigms that could be cookie-cut from any number of interchangeable thrillers such as Bond, Bourne or Mission Impossible.
However, the finale sets the scene for a sequel which may allow the inclusion of the criminal organisation T.H.R.U.S.H, secret bases behind tailor shops, triangle identity badges, and some political incorrectness that made the TV series so popular. Simultaneously, another movie could provide the troubleshooting duo of Cavill and Hammer time to develop the kind of chemistry that Robert Vaughn and David McCallum had on the small screen.
This reboot is not an impressive movie, but it is pleasurable and harmless, frothy, fun.
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