Man From U.N.C.L.E. REVIEW



Armed with sharp wit, classy actors, and a timeless feel that pays homage to the spy genre, Man From U.N.C.L.E. is retro-slick and surprisingly funny at times. The plot’s bare bones may sound familiar—childish almost—but when it’s brought to life on the big screen with offbeat quirks by a talented cast and crew, it’s a thrill to behold.

Set in the ever-beguiling charm of the 60’s, Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), America’s top spy, is forced to work with Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), member of the Russian KGB. Their differences are put aside as they try to work in tandem with Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), a German mechanic, to defeat a criminal organization headed by the glamorous Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki). However, the Cold War has put strains on the spies’ relationship in both dire manners (which country has the power in the end?) and juvenile ways (Kuryakin repeatedly shows up Solo with more advanced gadgets, to his chargin).

The script throws mini-curveball after curveball—Director Guy Ritchie knows how to pace his story and keep viewers’ attention in both the exhilarating action scenes and the more frequent good-ole-classic spy social mixers, where talk, not blows, is exchanged. The pattern the film falls into smacks of smart aleck, showing us a chipped scene and filling in the blanks later. Some may find the reveals tiring, but it held my attention for what felt like a long 2-hour movie—long in the best way possible, as I hoped for more scenes, more surprises, and got what I hoped for.

Perhaps it’s the allure of the time period and the class the characters carry themselves with. I’m a sucker for beautiful sets and high fashion—but I think it was the way the actors took command of their environment and wore their costumes with grace that captivated me. Cavill is classily handsome and sophisticated, Hammer plays the role of a Russian spy well, Vikander has an undeniable presence, and Debicki commands every scene she’s in. Gaby’s character I’ve absolutely fallen in love with—she comes close to topping my Favorite Female Characters list (Black Widow is first).

Even the comic book-ish split screens and overly dramatic music added flare rather than cheese to the movie. I’d say, mission accomplished. Is it too much to hope for a sequel?


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About Cassandra Hsiao

Cassandra Hsiao is a sophomore at Yale University. Her college application essay has reached millions across the world and factored into her acceptance by all 8 Ivy League Universities. She’s an award-winning on-camera & print journalist in entertainment and character-driven long-form narrative. As a playwright, she has seen her work come to life across the United States. Instagram/Twitter: @cassandrahsiao Facebook: Blog:

Posted on August 9, 2015, in Movie Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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