A film review of ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ (2015)
By Jan Prchal, Contributor
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) is a stylish, well-shot spy film, with comedic moments sometimes so subtle they could almost be missed without a theatre full of people to laugh at them.
The overall plot—which is about the American CIA and Soviet KGB working together to stop an international criminal organization (controlled by underground Nazis) from acquiring a nuclear weapon—is not particularly original, nor especially gripping. The other elements of the film, however, including its period setting, writing, and direction, lend it value as both a comedy and an action film.
The costumes, soundtrack, and set pieces give this film an impressively strong period feel for an action-comedy film, though this well-executed blend of high production value and skillful direction is a continuation of Guy Ritchie’s fine work on the two Sherlock Holmes films in 2009 and 2011.
The comedic depth of the characters is somewhat surprising. One of the two male leads is a suave CIA agent played by Henry Cavill with a penchant for fine dining and a luxurious lifestyle. In one scene, he indulges these habits without bothering to assist his Russian counterpart who is in the middle of a heated firefight pursuit just in front of him, at least not until it is absolutely necessary.
The film includes some deft sex jokes that almost fly under the radar. One example of this is a scene where the two male protagonists are breaking into a compound. They decide who will take top and who will take bottom. Paired with the preceding sexual humour and the amusing dynamics between the two male leads, this very subtle piece of homoerotic humour is just one example of the type of comedy that this film contains.
While the rivalry between the two male leads forms the bulk of the comic material in the film—as they compete in combat, spying ability, sexual conquests, and fashion sense—much credit must be given to the female leads as well. Alicia Vikander steals a few scenes, particularly one where she toys with Hammer (Illya Kuryakin) by playing music and dancing as he tries to concentrate on his game of chess.
If you think you would enjoy a spy film that toys with the male ego, and contains nicely detailed period settings and decent comedic moments, then The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is definitely recommended.