The Courier-Mail

Not quite the right spies


Hol­ly­wood has never been able to re­sist mak­ing a pass at any old TV show.

There is rarely much true love in the room for the end re­sult. In­evitably, the tryst ends in tears. Or yawns.

So here we have The Man From U.N.C.L.E., in which on­a­gain-off-his-rocker-again film­maker Guy Ritchie re­heats a Cold War con­cept that rated its socks off on the box more than 50 years ago.

An ad­mirably mer­cu­rial tal­ent be­hind the cam­era, Bri­tish-born Ritchie is com­ing off a cou­ple of loopy Sher­lock Holmes movies that un­pre­dictably snapped, crack­led and popped in all the right places.

Cu­ri­ously, Ritchie adopts a some­what state­lier, saner ap­proach for this new pro­ject, and all that re­fined re­straint does not pay much of a div­i­dend for ei­ther the di­rec­tor or his au­di­ence.

While The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is def­i­nitely the most at­trac­tively de­signed ac­tion movie of the year to date, its un­abashed good looks aren’t enough to stop you notic­ing your pulse rate isn’t ex­actly ris­ing in a hurry.

The set­ting sits smack-bang in the mid­dle of the 1960s, an era when most spy-game fix­tures were Rus­sia Vs The Rest of the World af­fairs.

Cap­tain­ing the lat­ter team for this movie is Amer­i­can art-thief-turned-se­cret-agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cav­ill).

He’s a ju­nior-league James Bond crossed with a men’s-mag model.

This suave, smart-ar­sey clotheshor­se could kill you with­out a sec­ond thought. But he’s just as likely to take you shop­ping.

Rep­re­sent­ing the Russkis we have KGB op­er­a­tive Illya Kuryakin (Ar­mie Ham­mer). He’s an old-school Com­mie nut-job: a stoic, cap­i­tal­ist- hat­ing dolt who is a bit of a psy­chopath, an and a bit of a goofy square.

Need­less to say, Solo and Kuryakin ca can’t stand each other, and w will there­fore be work­ing with each other for much of The Man From U.N. C. L. E.

Bring­ing them to­gether for much bro bro-man­tic bick­er­ing is a an ace East Ger­man mot mo­tor me­chanic named Gaby (Alicia Vikan­der), w whose long-lost fa­ther is a ro rogue rocket sci­en­tist.

Some ir­ri­ta­ble Ital­ian types ar are about to clean up the world-dom­i­na­tion stakes with some dirty nukes.

Which means that Solo and Kuryakin must find Gaby’s old man ASAP, or the Euro­pean weather forecast for the rest of the decade will be mush­room clouds with a chance of acid rain.

Con­sid­er­ing Ritchie’s prior form as a di­rec­tor de­ter­mined to shake things up when the talk stops and the ac­tion be­gins, it comes as a sur­prise to ex­pe­ri­ence his re­laxed, al­most clin­i­cal ef­forts here.

A few set-piece se­quences (an open­ing car chase on the wrong side of the Ber­lin Wall, and a speed­boat skir­mish at the Ital­ian sea­side) are very well ex­e­cuted. How­ever, the rest of the so-called “hot stuff” merely basks in a luke­warm, self-sat­is­fied glow un­der closer ex­am­i­na­tion.

Though Cav­ill (the cur­rent Su­per­man of choice) and Ham­mer (he was The Lone Ranger, re­mem­ber?) do have their mo­ments — and Vikan­der never looks less than stun­ning in her spec­tac­u­lar, retro wardrobe — the whole thing even­tu­ally blows over with­out any de­posit lodged in the mem­ory banks.

 ?? The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ?? Alicia Vikan­der,
Ar­mie Ham­mer and Henry Cav­ill in
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Alicia Vikan­der, Ar­mie Ham­mer and Henry Cav­ill in

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