The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » Monthly - August 28, 2015
Film review
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The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
   
Warner Bros. contemplated making The Man from U.N.C.L.E. for almost 10 years and the end result seems to have been worth the wait. Directed by Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Sherlock Holmes), this spy comedy is fun to watch. Sparkling with distinctively British humor, it offers delightful dialogue delivered by likable characters and its slightly surreal script is packed with plot twists, even if some of them are predictable. The movie’s appeal possibly also hinges on its 1960s setting, which works surprisingly well in contemporary theaters.

The script is based on a Golden Globe-winning television series that aired in the United States in 1964-1968 and starred Robert Vaughn (The Magnificent Seven) and David McCallum (The Great Escape). The titular U.N.C.L.E. stood for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, a top-secret team of super-spies who tracked down and fought sinister international organizations that you could say were the forerunners of present-day terrorist groups. Like the original series, the Ritchie movie is set in the 1960s. Shortly after the Cuban missile crisis, top CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill—Immortals, Man of Steel) finds himself having to team up with up-and-coming KGB agent Ilya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer—Entourage, Lone Ranger). This duo, an unlikely partnership in the midst of the Cold War, is tasked with saving the world from a nuclear threat caused by a mysterious organization with ties to surviving Nazis.

Neither Solo nor Kuryakin are men of unblemished honor. Solo is a former professional art thief who took advantage of the chaos that prevailed in postwar Europe. Sentenced to 15 years in prison, he was approached by the CIA with an offer he could not refuse. An elegant polyglot, he has a knack for stripping women of bracelets and watches as well as of their clothes. He is also a skilled safecracker. On top of that, he is a skilled marksman and an expert in close combat. Kuryakin, on the other hand, is a hunk but a neurotic one, haunted by a family tragedy. His father, a senior official in the Soviet communist party and a personal friend of Stalin, ended up in a gulag after being caught embezzling party money. As for Kuryakin’s mother, she was never too fastidious in observing her marital vows. Even though Kuryakin breezed through his training with the Spetsnaz, the Soviet special forces, his childhood traumas sometimes make him unpredictable when under pressure.

Solo and Kuryakin have to thwart an evil plan hatched by the Nazis and their Italian henchmen. They are also trying to rescue Gaby (Alicia Vikander—A Royal Affair, Ex-Machina), the daughter of a German professor who is building a nuclear warhead. Luckily for all of them, the operation is supervised by spymaster Waverly (Hugh Grant—Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill), a British intelligence officer who has a clever way of making the Americans and Russians work together so that the good guys don’t get hurt too badly...

Witold Żygulski