Director: Guy Ritchie
Original Release: 2015
Choice: My Wife's
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
I judge the film against two separate metrics: spy movies and Guy Ritchie movies. Ian Flemming was deeply involved in the development of the TV series so similarities with the James Bond franchise are to be expected. The story's low on gadgetry but there are great fight and chase scenes as well as ample sexual intrigue. Overall, I'd say The Man from U.N.C.L.E. compares quite favorably with recent Bond offerings.
Bond is a mixed bag. I've seen them all and would feel I was somehow being unfaithful to the cinematic gods if I hadn't. But I willingly admit that even the best of the batch rely more on spectacle than narrative substance. One thing I have come to admire about Star Wars, on the other hand, is the fact that every duel or space battle is infused with story and I feel The Man from U.N.C.L.E. did well along those lines. The obligatory chase scene to open a Bond film is always fun but the priority is topping the same scene from the most recent movie rather than advancing development. With U.N.C.L.E., the action scenes were spectacular but also occasionally funny and always meaningful.
Ritchie movies are, if anything, the higher standard for me. Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels are two of my all-time favorites. I love his snappy dialogue, innovative camerawork, serpentine storytelling and obvious gift for getting the most out of an actor. U.N.C.L.E. doesn't quite measure up to the two mentioned above but Ritchie's sensibilities nearly always generate a sophisticated product.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is fun and I'm hoping this is just the first film of many in a series. The franchise is certainly in good hands with Guy Ritchie.