Movie Reviews: "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."

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Guy Ritchie's latest spy thriller is surprisingly funny...

About a year and a half ago, a group of friends and I were sitting around talking about movie trends. We’d done the pirates thing, followed it up with vampires, and then jumped into zombies. The question was what was going to be next. 

I put my money on spies and secret agents. I’ve been collecting all year. However, unlike vampires, pirates, and zombies, I had no idea spies had the potential to be so funny. 

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a beautifully shot film, and some of the prettiest parts are the seat of the film’s best humor. There are a lot of long and lingering shots that focus on the foreground while something ridiculous plays out behind them. 

The humor is often very tongue in cheek, very suave, very classy. It knows exactly what it wants to be as a movie, and enjoys every goofy step of the way. From the first rather ridiculous chase scene, you understand what’s going on. 

Henry Cavill’s affected speech mannerisms, the slow trip of words off his tongue, is really fascinating to listen to--like a cousin of the old transatlantic accents, perhaps twice removed, and Armie Hammer’s Russian accent is equally engaging.

The way the story unfolds, too, struck me as pretty much perfect. It’s very much a Guy Ritchie film, as I have come to know them. There is a lot of forward and backward movement in the plot and revelations and withheld information, but it never disturbs the pacing, and it never feels out of place. And whether that’s because of the cheesy-but-awesome integration of split screens and side swipes or because the genre lends itself to that sort of narrative, I could not have been more delighted. 

The soundtrack is also something interesting, with heavy woodwinds all throughout, not the sort of music I expected to be coupled with subterfuge and violence. 

If I had a single complaint, it’s that the computer effects, when used, are very apparent. Explosions occasionally have a a thin band of green around the flame. But honestly, with as playful and cheesy as the tone is, I can’t really hold that against it too much.

The likelihood of my seeing The Man From U.N.C.L.E. at least once more before it’s out of theaters is very high. I hope there’s at least nine more. If they’re like this one, my wallet will come to regret it, and I’ll be grinning the whole time.