The improbable duo inevitably starts out as adversaries on a quest to rescue mechanic Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), daughter of “Hitlers favourite rocket scientist”, from life behind the Berlin Wall. From there it escalates to a full blown frenzy for the agents and their damsel in a quest to prevent WW3. Queue the billionaire sycophant power- couple, ”experimental” Nazi scientists, death defying car chases and all the 60’s style you can shake a stick at and you have Richie’s latest offering.
Stylistically this movie is exceptional and invokes that rare envy that one can only experience when watching heroes and heroines tearing through beautiful backdrops and battling impossibly rich and heinous villains. The pace starts out frantically but settles after the first couple of scenes in order to allow the leads to ingratiate themselves to the audience. It’s questionable as to whether this actually happens though as Cavils’ suave panache seems a little laboured at points and Hammer’s by the book KGB stalwartness often seems more awkward than heroic and loyal. The ladies more than make up for this though with outstanding performances from 60’s chic Vikander and the fiendish foe of Debicki, who both outshine their male counterparts in almost every scene. Hugh Grant also manages to steal the spotlight and show the young bucks how it’s done in his hilarious cameo as Waverly. He is honestly one of the soul reasons why I would go to see any and all sequels in this franchise. He’s just that good!
One could reasonably question if Richie struck it lucky with his first foray into the blockbuster franchise, namely the reboot of Sherlock Holmes, in having the highest paid actor in Hollywood to carry the weight of the first two films. It certainly didn’t hurt that Robert Downey Jr had an incredible natural chemistry with his co-star Jude law in these films, which was certainly lacking between Cavill and Hammer here. Also lacking was the edge that Guy brought in his earlier outings such as Snatch and Lock Stock. Nonetheless a tip of the cap must go to costume designer Joanna Johnston (Lincoln, Saving Private Ryan) for her impeccable taste and research throughout this film. Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki) especially looks both powerful and effortlessly elegant in every scene and Solos ensembles are devilishly debonair from start to finish. The soundtrack from Daniel Penderton (The Counsellor) will almost certainly have the audience toe-tapping throughout the movie and compliments each lavish location with its catchy colloquialism. His compositions work especially well with Richie’s fantastic split-screen montage and also the picnic scene, which are must see highlights.
Altogether this summer blockbuster is a jovial jaunt which teases at points to something much more entertaining. Much like an old muscle car from the 60’s, it looks and sounds incredible and with just a few minor tweaks, has the potential to be excellent. If Richie can coax slightly better performances from his lead males this could be something truly special. His heroes hinted at a more unified and likable pairing in the final scenes but whether that is enough to entice you to spend your hard earned cash on the sequel is entirely up to you. Personally if Hugh Grant is in the next one I’m in!
Rating – 3/5
The Man From U.N.C.L.E is out August 15th via Warner Bros Ireland and in all major cinema’s nationwide. Catch the full trailer below.
Words – Michael Wall