Napoleon Solo, former soldier turned professional thief turned international CIA operative, is tasked by his handlers to bring in Gaby Teller, the rough and tumble daughter of a missing former Nazi scientist turned American collaborator in hopes of locating her father. Standing in his way and ruining his general good time is top KGB agent and all around Russian Superman Illya Kuryakin.
The two agents would love nothing more than to rip each others throats out, but they have bigger fish to fry. Forced to work together the trio must race against the clock to stop Alexander and Victoria Vinciguerra, wealthy Nazi sympathizers, from forcing Gaby's father into building them a nuclear weapon.
With tensions running high and lives on the line it's up to our heroes to put their egos aside and man up.
Oh, Man From U.N.C.L.E., there was such high hopes for you...
Here's the thing, this film wasn't bad, not by any stretch, but it really wasn't that good either. The opening credits imposed over various Cold War news footage set the tone well and the introductions of the main characters and subsequent chase scene through East Berlin were fantastic, even the following scenes involving Napoleon and Illya butting heads were well done. The characters were decently thought out and the actors portraying them (especially Armie Hammer) brought real gusto and knew when to chew scenery and when not to. The settings, costumes, and cinematography were impeccable, the action scenes, shootouts, chases, all that were awesome and even the bits of humor had me rolling in my seat...But that's it.
The story was bland and predictable, spy movie tropes were rampant, and the pacing was dirt. It was good dirt, real high-end stuff, like you knew it would make your tomatoes grow faster, but it's still dirt.
One of my major problems with the film story-wise is that Napoleon (played by Henry Cavill who looks better in a suit and tie than a cape) is pegged to be the main character, but he really doesn't feel like it. Illya has the heart breaking backstory, Illya has the complex emotional issues, and Illya is the one you make a connection with. Had this been an origin film for the intrepid KGB operative I think I would have enjoyed it much more.
With a golden cast and enough retro set pieces to keep your eyes entertained, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is worth a watch...if you're renting. If you're looking for something to watch on a $6 Tuesday or whatever you have in your area then it might even be worth that, but anything more than that you're probably better off saving your money. It might be my fault, I might have hyped myself up too much for this film, but in the days where 007 and Mission: Impossible can crank out a sold film every few years why can't we have a well-crafted throwback film based on a critically-acclaimed property that isn't Get Smart?
Well that's it for this one. At least it didn't have Tom Cruise in it.
Damn, I think I know what I'm reviewing next.....
Mr. A (Executive producer, international man of mystery)