Stylish Sixties Spooks
Mis-matched Cold War duo fight Neo-Nazi bomb makers in very stylish re-make of the much-loved TV series
Review by Rupert Watkins
Adding a stylish and rakish air to the original spy series, Guy Richie brings his own unique panache to this spy caper. Well – cut suits (courtesy of Timothy Everest), Pucci dresses and all-round la dolce vita abound as Henry Cavill’s Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer’s Illya Kuryakin move from the grimy back streets of Cold War divided Berlin to the Eternal City of Rome. Utilising the ever-green and fun plot of Neo-Nazis and stolen nuclear devices, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, sees the father of Gabriella Teller – played by Alicia Vikander – kidnapped by Elizabeth Deblicki’s icy and ruthless Victoria Vinciguerra before the initially mismatched and distrustful CIA and KGB duo foil the fascist heiress’s plans for world blackmail.
The entire cast look like they’re thoroughly enjoying themselves. Cavill looks distinctly at home as Solo, the dapper and urbane art thief turned CIA agent, delivering his witticisms in a suitably ironic manner, whilst Hammer brings an air of restrained menace and rigidity to the dedicated Kuryakin. Their banter is well caught, sprightly and suitably tongue in cheek. Hugh Grant revels in his suitably avuncular but ruthless role as the MI6 case officer Waverley. Deblicki relishes the role as villain, stealing her scenes with a mixture of style and abandon – clearly enjoying being the femme fatale. Vikander bring spark and wit to the role of the innocent – or is she(?) – Teller, enjoying – and occasionally infuriated by – the budding bromance between the two spies.
The film is well shot, there is a slight 1960s feel to the cinematography as Guy Richie captures the international jet set background to the action, the Grand Plaza Hotel in Rome is a suitably luxurious Rome base. Style abounds – Cavill’s wardrobe as Solo is elegant, Timothy Everest worked with the custom designer for the film to bring just a right amount of British tailoring panache to the American character.
Plot wise, it is refreshing to see an action film that does not feel the need to bring levels of comic book violence to the screen. Sly laughs abound throughout the film as Richie keeps smart dialogue tripping along at a good pace. A lot of work went into the period detail of this film, even the flight deck of the British Victorious class aircraft carrier used by Waverley to help out our two spies is well caught and very accurate. Perhaps the only issue is at the very end of the film slightly tauter editing would have resulted in a tighter final plot twist.