Overview: The CIA and KGB’s top agents are forced to set aside their rivalry and join forces to find a scientist who is being forced to create a nuclear weapon to be used by the Nazis. Warner Bros. Pictures; 2015; Rated PG-13; 116 minutes.
Undercover: In true Guy Ritchie fashion, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. doesn’t focus on one single method of entertainment enough to let itself be defined by it, which might leave some viewers wanting more. It’s not funny enough to be a comedy, it doesn’t have enough casualties or explosions to be an action film, and it’s not somber enough to be labeled a drama. But, surprisingly, the film doesn’t suffer from a case of uncertainty or lack of identity. Ritchie knows exactly what kind of film he’s trying to make, and intentionally rides the slick surface the entire time. It’s a spy game, after all, revolving around people and organizations who exist around the concept of misconceptions and avoidance of depth and vulnerability. Viewers will spend the whole run-time feeling almost within reach of grasping the endgame, or just shy of connecting with a character, but we’re stopped short on purpose every time, because that’s the point.
From Russia with Love: Every single character cast in this film is devastatingly beautiful, and as equally stoically detached. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer are suitable cast as dangerously handsome yet emotionally damaged CIA and KGB agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin. The two begrudgingly form a forced buddy cop relationship that — when it’s not taking the form of a dry yet entertaining who-has-the-coolest-spy-toys pissing contest — form a sort of odd couple friendship. Their awkward dynamic and reluctant reliance on one another carries this film through the lulls and expected twists, Solo’s snark and Bond-like arrogance balancing Kuryakin’s brutish and cold demeanor. Their banter, along with the sleek, retro vibe that pays homage to the film’s 60’s television roots, spices things up during the push toward the inevitable twists and turns of the final act.
All Agents on Deck: The resurgence of the spy film has brought with it a wide array of agents, double crossings, cat and mouse games, and suavely dressed heroes who can manage to take out the bad guys without wrinkling their suits or mussing up their hair. From an original comedy, to a comic book adaptation, and new installments to existing action-packed franchises, 2015 is overflowing with secret agents, and at least one of them is bound please even the most casual fan of the genre.
Overall: Although The Man from U.N.C.L.E. doesn’t break any new ground and might not be everyone’s mission of choice, it’s stylish, fun, and an entertaining enough entry in a crowded lineup of spy-thriller fare.