Sunday, 16 August 2015


Films like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. can get away with a lot. They can swiftly make up for all their shortcomings with the right spirit and the right style. They're not intended to be 'about' anything, rather they seek to entertain in a purer, simpler, more straightforward way. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a delightfully chic romp through 1960s Europe with a fab wardrobe, wondrous locales and a cast whose aesthetic value almost trumps the lot... if only it knew it. The film is peculiarly askew, not fundamentally, only in details that are minor and many. The dialogue is lazy when it should be snappy, sidling through pressing plot points with half-hearted quips when it ought to be shooting forth one zinger after another. It's also peppered with anachronisms that are mirrored in Guy Ritchie's direction - his maximalist style does inject some pep into proceedings, but it clashes with the laidback chicness that is the film's driving desire. The plot makes sense, yes, and it's not hard to follow, no, but it's bandied around sporadically with the kind of nonchalance that inspires no interest in what could happen next - a loose, carefree swagger that The Man from U.N.C.L.E. undoubtedly requires, but not in this regard. The cast is well picked, and everybody looks the part, but not everybody acts it: Armie Hammer has no-one convinced that he's anything but a big softie through and through, and Alicia Vikander aims for aloofness but hits brittle, and mostly just looks like she'd rather be off trying to win an Oscar. Their cumulative discordance is negated by the efforts of the other principals, like the achingly glamorous Elizabeth Debicki, and a game Henry Cavill. Those two could certainly get away with a lot.