The plot’s pretty standard, but Guy Ritchie’s Man From UNCLE remake / reboot / whatever has a lot of charm. It’s incredibly stylish, at times breathtakingly beautiful, and features an absolute star-making turn by Henry Cavill as Napoleon Dynamite – whoops, Solo – played long ago on the small screen by Robert Vaughn.
I didn’t see Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel but I’ve been told by many he wasn’t given the chance to make much of an impression, mainly due to Superman being given very few lines. Here, Cavill’s Solo has a lot to say and he says it all very well. The script is chock full of extremely dry humour and Cavill gets the tone just right. He’s also stunningly handsome in a very old-fashioned movie star way. This man is a leading man.
As Russian agent Ilya Kuryakin, played by David McCallum in the series, Armie Hammer also mounts a serious charm offensive, and together he and Cavill deliver a fun buddy movie. I haven’t seen either of Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies, but I gather this is what he does now: puts two handsome men together in a stylish period setting (in this case, the 60s) and lets them banter. These two banter very well indeed, and look great in 60s clothes.
So do Alicia Vikander and (especially) Elizabeth Debicki, who, refreshingly, are given as much chance to be wonderful as the men. Vikander plays the daughter of a German scientist who has been kidnapped by Debicki to build a nuke. Debicki doesn’t so much chew the scenery as lap it up like a spoiled cat. She is a magnificent human being.
Unfortunately, Man From UNCLE is not slaying the box office. I was hoping for a franchise. This is fun stuff.