#55 MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E
Starring Henry Carvill, Armie Hammer, Hugh Grant, Alicia Vikander, Jared Harris, Elizabeth Debicki and David Beckham. Written by Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram. Directed by Guy Ritchie. 116 minutes long.
It's the 1960s, at the height of the cold war. Insanely ripped, Napoleon Solo (Henry Carvill) - now a buff, ex-international cat burglar forced to work for the C.I.A is in East Berlin to help a ridiculously attractive female car mechanic (Alicia Vikander) escape from under the attentions of super ripped KGB Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), now a walking wall of muscle with a tragic background. The girl is the estranged daughter of a nuclear physicist working for some bad people to build an atomic bomb. So the KGB and the CIA make their two best agents work together to bring down the big bad villains and retrieve the bomb. But guess what, our two, chalk and cheese super agents just they don't get on, indeed they've got nicknames for each other! Cowboy and Peril. So will they overcome their differences and save the day? Well surprisingly, no they don't!
Indeed, they spend so long arguing and fighting that the bad guys lead by beautiful Elizabeth Debicki actually finish the bomb and detonate it successfully starting world war 3 and the film ends with a slow pan across a desolate radioactive wasteland of smoldering ruins and the two super agents still bickering, each blaming the other for them failing their mission.
Nah, just kidding, obvs they save the day.
Hooray for the summer of 2015, the summer of 'Meh', and get ready to add another lump of meh to the pile of meh that's stunk up the cinemas for most of the summer like a great big pile of steaming meh.
Nothing much wrong with this, it's got Guy Richie's style all over it, it's professionally made, with a groovy soundtrack, a couple of nice turns - the raid on the villain's port base is entertaining as is the escape from Berlin and some funny moments, it's just sadly utterly un-engaging and un-involving and there's just nothing holding it all together, there's no chemistry between the two
leads and some of the CGI effects are less than special. Henry Carvill acts as stiffly as he looks, occasionally pouting to convey emotion, while Armie Hammer frowns furiously, clenches his fists and smashes things to express his inner feelings. After that the three leads back and forth and never gel, as they lead us from one plot point to the next in a gentle amble, so laid back and hip that I totally forgot what the plot was, what they were up to, or even why. It all leads up to a very unsatisfying ending and showdown with the villain and the obligatory end where the next film is set up. Sadly on the basis of this outing there won't be one.
The original Man From U.N.C.L.E TV show was effortlessly cool, entertaining and chic, everything this wasn't. The crazy thing is that the old TV show sets worked perfectly to create a fake Europe, while here the real thing fails to convince it is anything other than a modern city dressed to look like the 1960s. And whereas the TV show never bothered with an origin or back story for its two heroes, this time round we have to get the whole kit and caboodle and it adds nothing to the mix. What a sad and sorry missed opportunity. If you want to see a really good 1960s based modern spy movie that's funny, extremely funny and very 1960s then give MFU a miss and watch this instead!
Meh From Uncle. 6/10
Incidentally, I saw this in a New York cinema, the Bow Tie in Chelsea, the first film I've ever watched in an American cinema. I don't know if all US cinemas are like the Bow Tie, but boy what a cinema! Fantastic, reclining seats, roomy, relaxing, comfortable. Plus a superb sound system and a great picture too. Plus an amazing range of relatively cheap snacks and good service, I would heartly recommend it!