Director Guy Ritchie Starring Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Grant
I saw The Man From U.N.C.L.E four days ago. It’s not because life reared its ugly head that I didn’t get onto the review straight away; I’ve been struggling beyond belief, trying to come up with some of my usual nonsense to sprout. For the first time, in a long while, I’ve got nothing to say, and this writer’s block is reflective of the film I just watched. In reviewing anything the modus operandi (for me, at least) is to identify every aspect and critique it. The thing is I’ve not identified with anything that’s happened in U.N.C.L.E.
This didn’t make watching a bad experience, but the question that keeps popping into my head is: I know what it isn’t, but what is it? U.N.C.L.E has this almighty blend of action, espionage and thrills with suave spies, slim white women (serious hang-up developed) in a setting that I can’t pin down. These do make for great cinema, but in this case it’s all just thrown in together while drama and comedy coexist but never properly work together. Unfortunately, while Cavill’s performance is polished, comedy is what the role of Napoleon Solo is entirely built upon. The only time comedy is used to advantage is in the role of Illya Kuryakin (Hammer), which helps give this generic, angry man warmth, making him human. The pairing of Kuryakin with Gaby Teller (Vikander), their personality clashes and brewing love-story furthers his depth, but it just isn’t shared around enough.
Poetically this inability to harmonise is reminiscent of what is the heart of the story: enemies who learn to work together and become allies. It’s a solid premise and where the films strength, character development, resides. So when the film quits with the action and laughs and shifts the focus to the characters U.N.C.L.E becomes far greater, but this lack of cohabitation of two genres that have lived in congruence for a long time is, on this occasion, a case of life not imitating art.
I’m content with keeping this one shorter than usual because, like I said, I’ve got nothing. The reviewing process is where I formulate my opinion, but what kind of film the makers were going for is still unclear to me. However, underneath what is a jumbled mess of action, thrills, laughs, a little bit of romance and drama is a film that’s been ingeniously crafted. It’s just a shame U.N.C.L.E wasn’t further refined so these qualities could dominate the viewing experience.
But because I feel this is simple a matter of the bad weighing down the good it leaves me feeling like maybe this film does reside somewhere upon the genre spectrum. I just need to follow U.N.C.L.E‘s example and simply do some digging of my own to find it.