We have seen The Man from U.N.C.L.E. twice, the first time for the beautiful leads, and the second time for its Dolce Vita-era style and fashion.
The movie is adapted from a TV show that is so old, even we don’t remember seeing it. This is what the original stars looked like.
Robert Vaughn and David McCallum played Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin, an American spy and a Russian spy who worked together to save the world from evil masterminds. The TV show was on during the height of the Cold War, so the idea of Russians and Americans working together must’ve offered some comfort to people who expected the world to blow up at at any time.
The movie by Guy Ritchie is still set in 1963, and stars these two.
Every time Henry Cavill (Napoleon Solo) or Armie Hammer (Ilya Kuryakin) spoke, each time one of them so much as raised an eyebrow, the women in our row would go: Hihihihihihihihihihihi. Cavill and Hammer (Cammer? Havill?) looked so good in their outfits that we decided not to write a letter to the studio protesting the fact that no one took his shirt off.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is fun, cheeky, and not as spastic as previous Guy Ritchie movies. He actually slows down the pace so we can enjoy the humor, such as in the sequence where Cavill eats a sandwich while, in the window, we can see Hammer being chased up and down the harbor by fascist goons. There’s also a lot of multiple split screens, which work.
The plot is basic, the execution stylish. We had expected a parody of 60s spy thrillers and got an hommage to them instead. We especially enjoyed the use of Italian pop songs from the 60s—during a furious chase scene, some guy would be wailing about thwarted love or whatever.
Photos from Henry Cavill Online.
To continue the season of feminine ass-kickers (Mad Max: Fury Road, Ant-Man, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and who knew Magic Mike XXL would be feminist?) The Man from U.N.C.L.E. co-stars Alicia Vikander as a Nazi scientist’s daughter who is also a brilliant mechanic, and Elizabeth Debicki (she played Jordan in The Great Gatsby) as the most sosyal fascist villain in films this year. Her line readings are delicious, and even at the most dangerous moments she cannot be rushed.
Fashion is one of the movie’s stars, as Hammer and Cavill remind us when they have a discussion over whether a Paco Rabanne belt can go with a Jean Patou. Men who are gorgeous, resourceful, speak many languages, can kill with their bare hands and know how to accessorize: perfect.
There is something for everyone, including double-entendre and queer-baiting (“I’ll take the top.” “I’ll take the bottom.”). Someone brought their very smart kid to a screening, and the kid asked the right questions (“Why does he keep talking about his father’s watch?”). In one scene Cavill…entertains a lady in his hotel room, and in the room directly below it, Hammer observes the chandelier shaking and certain sounds coming from above. “Why is it shaking?” the kid asked. We didn’t hear how his parents answered the question.
And look, it’s Hugh Grant!
Essay question: Hammer or Cavill?