The Cold War powers of the 1960’s forming a brief détente in order to find a rogue scientist with the power to upset the delicate nuclear balance. Two opposing agents of the new great game forced to work together despite their personal and professional enmity. What could go wrong?
Apparently something to the tune of fifty million dollars. The domestic box office for “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.“ was only, what must have been a disappointing, $13.4 million. With a worldwide box office of $25.5 million and an estimated budget of $75 million, this leaves Warner Bros. left holding the bag and hoping to at least pull even. I hope they do because I really enjoyed watching the film, and would like to see the cast and crew take another swing at this franchise.
This latest outing from director Guy Ritchie is another display that the man can take a time period and distill the general feel of the era into a cinematic tone. He dispensed with some of the extreme close-ups and slow-motion that have become Ritchie’s trademark. Instead he added some framing and layering to his visual style that was very reminiscent of 1960’s film. The pacing was a little slow from time to time, which normally would be fine in an espionage thriller but felt out of place in the more action inspired tone of this movie.
I am fully behind the casting of this movie. Ok, so Armie Hammer needs a little more work on his Russian accent, but I really enjoyed his version of Illya Kuryakin. Big, brooding, and slightly psychotic. Henry Cavill also scored as the unlikely-named Napoleon Solo, the debonair and pithy womanizing thief turned spy. Alicia Vikander was well chosen as the smart and sexy Gabby Teller, who was fortunately given more to do than appear as mere eye-candy. Hugh Grant made a good turn as a British Intel chief, and for once his English fumbling seemed like spot-on character development. Unfortunately the villains were little more than set pieces, even the exquisitely beautiful Elizabeth Debicki. However, there was a brief torture scene from ‘Uncle Rudi’ actor Sylvester Groth which was a highlight to watch.
However, as much as I liked the film I knew there was something missing while watching it. Upon some reflection I think I can lay some blame on the writing (which I hate to do), as Guy Ritchie apparently missed drawing his audience into the plot. As much as I liked the characters, I never really got invested into what they were doing. Of course you can’t blame the initial box office of something you would have to buy a ticket in order to discover, but it does make me hesitate to suggest that this film is going to make up its initial disappointment. Which, again, is a shame because I would like to see what the trio of spies could get up to in Istanbul.
In the end I do think “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is worth the price of admission, and if you haven’t seen it yet I suggest you go out and see how Armie Hammer apologizes for ‘The Lone Ranger’ and how Henry Cavill can audition for the role of James Bond.