There’s a chase sequence towards the end of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which basically has the two leads simply driving up a hill. Not a whole lot actually happens, but it has tremendous energy, accompanied by a fantastic score by Daniel Pemberton. Which is the best way to describe the film as a whole. The story is fairly unremarkable, it’s simple, but it’s a hell of a great time. The dialogue is quick and witty, the actors all have winning chemistry, the editing is crisp, the cinematography is gorgeous, and, again, the score is splendid (really! it’s so toe-tappingly brilliant).
The film is drenched in 1960’s ambiance, from the clothes to cars to gadgets to the music, and even the color palette, which mirrors many films from that time period. And the plot is never too convoluted, just enough to keep the audience on their toes.
The three leads bounce so well off each other, I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get to see them together again. Henry Cavill plays Napoleon Solo, an expert thief who was released from prison in exchange for working with the C.I.A., assisting with whatever mission they assign him to. In the crackling opening action scene, Solo and Gaby (Alicia Vikander) outrun a Russian spy, equipped with near-superhuman strength. The Russian spy turns out to be Illya, Solo’s new temporary partner, dictated by their respective handlers, and assigned to accompany Gaby to locate her missing father, a brilliant scientist who might be aiding some villainous people bent on destroying the world (what else?). No surprise when Gaby turns out to have some spy skills of her own, able to effortlessly match her new teammates. It’s a bit of a letdown, when, in the film’s climax, Gaby is momentarily assigned to damsel in distress in need of saving.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. thankfully never takes itself too seriously. In fact, a scene with Vikander and Hammer in a hotel room had me laughing just as much as any moment in Spy or Kingsman: The Secret Service. The way Ritchie escalates the scene is pure comedy gold, and his actors play it perfectly. The film is able to effortlessly balance different types of humor with the serious moments. It will leap from a emotional sequence to one filled with gallows humor, and it never once feel jarring.
Ritchie’s film is a romping retro ride of vibrant clothes, loud colors, and voluptuous decor. If you have trouble remembering certain aspects days after watching it is okay with me. It’s the cinematic equivalent of cotton candy, and who doesn’t love cotton candy?