<i>The Man from U.N.C.L.E.</i> is Just the T.I.C.K.E.T.

Debbie Holloway

DVD Release Date: November 17, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: August 14, 2015
Rating: PG-13 (for action violence, some suggestive content, and partial nudity)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Spy
Run Time: 116 minutes
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant, Jared Harris, Elizabeth Debicki, Sylvester Groth

It’s the 1960's: East Berlin. Middle of the night. A dashing young American CIA agent enters a mechanic's shop, and shortly thereafter flees with young, beautiful Gaby: mechanic, expert driver, and the key to unlocking the most important nuclear weapons case of the Cold War. Of course it's the first scene, so you know the agent will be successful, and they will escape their pursuers just in time. But at this point you sit back, nod your head, and realize you're in for a crisp, clean spy-thriller, with just the right amount of laughs and tender moments to supplement the tried-and-true hallmarks of the genre.

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As in the 1964 TV series, American agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill, Man of Steel) and Russian agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer, The Lone Ranger) must form an unlikely alliance in order to complete a mission for the good of both world powers. And recruited to help them is young German Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina). All three have their flaws, foibles, and admirable traits, and some of the film's best moments happen in the quiet, comedic interludes between brash, charming Cavill and the brooding, sensitive Hammer. Also along the way we meet folks like Alexander Wavery (Hugh Grant, Cloud Atlas, with his signature warmth) and Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki, The Great Gatsby), an in-charge, wealthy villainess. While the supporting cast does a first-rate job filling out the screen, the true treat comes from watching the film's starrig trio (although, ok, also Debicki's fabulous wardrobe, if we’re being honest).

Cavill is a hit in this flick, debonair and cool throughout, never admitting defeat or allowing a wrinkle in his suit. Hammer, as Illya, is reserved and haunted by the shame of a broken family. His protective spirit of tenderness comes out around Gaby, who pretends to be his fiancé during their undercover work. Hammer's portrayal of this easily angered but noble, proud character is one of the most charming parts of the film. These male leads are truly perfect foils to one another - and they have the audience rooting for their friendship even through squabbles and major upsets.

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For a connoisseur of the spy/secret agent genre, a warning would be that this film doesn't exactly reach uncharted territory. There are all your classic tropes: car chases, bugged conversations, double agents, and a shameless, womanizing protagonist a la James Bond. However, director and co-writer Guy Ritchie (the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes films) pulls off a solid and enjoyable heist, with direction far cleaner and more energetic than your average summer flick. The sweeping landscapes of Germany and Italy are gorgeous, almost characters themselves. The script did an admirable job incorporating multifaceted female characters as true power-players in their own right, and not just pretty faces or damsels to be transported, something still too rare in this genre in 2015. And it all was underscored by a classy, memorable soundtrack from Daniel Pemberton.

And as a final nod to the original show, the film truly has a distinct older-world feel about it. Many costumes are indeed vintage pieces from the period. Henry Cavill dons an American accent with shades of the 1950's and 60's - similar to Cary Grant or Robert Vaughn, the TV show's original Napoleon Solo. The occasional subtitles are quirky, bold, and intentionally used to emphasize plot points. And, while the film boasts some mature thematic elements, the script is free of coarse language, sex, and graphic violence. Instead, we get a fresh film from a classic genre, and the chance to spend two hours observing three fascinating, unlikely teammates getting to know - and maybe even trust - one another, with a not-too-subtle suggestion of more adventures to come?

For a viewer or even a whole family looking to enjoy a summer action flick that won't leave you wincing or demanding your money back, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is just the T.I.C.K.E.T.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

Publication date: August 14, 2015

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