The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. dazzles with its gorgeous production design and allows us to sit back and have a good time.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Guy Ritchie — maker of the two recent steampunky Sherlock Holmes movies starring Robert Downey, Jr. — gives us a great spy-fi comedy adventure this summer that dieselpunk fans ought to be interested in.

Although the The Man from U.N.C.L.E., based on the 1960s television series of the same name, takes place in the post-dieselpunk era, it contains many of the genre’s tropes and themes: spies, unrepentant Nazis in a plot against the two superpowers, missing nuclear weapons, speedboats, helicopters, industrial decors reminiscent of Thunderbirds and dashing Space Age costumes.

Critics say the plot is rather weak and they’re right. But this isn’t Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. pokes a bit of fun at the spy thrillers of the 60s, dazzles with its gorgeous production design and allows us to sit back and have a good time.

The cast is a blast. Henry Cavill, the latest Superman, is there to deliver deadpans as the serial womanizer Napoleon Solo. Many of the jokes come at the expense of his Soviet counterpart Illya Kuryakin, played by Armie Hammer. Alicia Vikander, a Swedish actress, plays the heroine, Gaby Teller. Elizabeth Debicki, from Australia, is a delight as U.N.C.L.E.’s villain, Victoria Vinciguerra, daughter of an Italian fascist and heir to his business empire.

The ending leaves the door open to a sequel but so far, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. isn’t doing terribly well at the box office. So go see it in the theaters and help make that sequel happen!

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I picked this up on second-hand DVD. As is typical for Richie movies, the styling is great and the plot involved. He really captures that early 1960s vibe both for divided Berlin and then in Italy, very different in appearance at the time. It moves along rapidly and at times with its tongue in its cheek. However, the plot is better than many ‘serious’ spy movies and the time slipping works well in terms of tension rather than simply as a gimmick. Very much under-rated; deserved more attention.

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