Film Club: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Here we go!


What I Liked

All three leads were interesting in their own rights but worked well off one another. Despite most of the promotional images, this isn’t the “Napoleon and Illya Show” – Gaby, the always excellent Alicia Vikander, is a fully realized lead who carries entire scenes on her own.

Lots of people correctly point how charismatic Henry Cavill in this but for me the breakout start is Armie Hammer. He takes what could be a very flat character in Illya and gives him subtle layers of loneliness, rage and empathy. Illya and Gaby’s would be romance works well because it’s built up believably and sweetly. The promise for a sequel that lingered made me hope they get their moment.

What I Loved

I know people give Guy Ritchie a lot of shit, and rightfully so sometimes, but he’s in his element filming the action scenes. It’s rare for me to remember entire sequences of action well after seeing a movie but there are several that stand out to me.

The car chase when Napoleon & Gaby are trying to evade Illya in East Berlin is clever, engaging and all out entertaining.

The boat chase scene where Illya is running from the big bad’s henchman undercut with Napoleon eating a found sandwich from a random 18-wheeler truck is delightful. A perfect blend of adrenaline and whimsy.

And finally the big set piece at the end when our three leads are chasing down the runaway villains across land and sea – literally!
What Could Have Been Better
There are only two things I didn’t particularly love. The first being all of the fake-outs and double crosses at the end. Yes, I know this is a spy film in which two unlikely agents (plus Gaby!) are forced to work together but the very real bonding that happened throughout makes it all seem a bit contrived. Ultimately, they all end up on the same side again and we experience a very nice moment where Napoleon hands Illya his father’s watch just as it looks like Illya is going to off his American counterpart.

Secondly, the Italian villains felt a little mustache-twirly, which goes with the slightly over-the-top theme of the movie, but where the would-be heroes also exhibit moments of vulnerability that offsets the action and quips, the Vinciguerras and Gaby’s uncle just seem to be going through the plot motions.

All in all, I fucking loved this movie if you couldn’t already tell. I don’t know if it did well enough financially to warrant a sequel but I’d be so down to revisit this world again.

There’s so much more to discuss that I didn’t even touch on so tell me what you all thought in the comments section!

Next week’s Film Club discussion will be about Beginners hosted by Bresson, Sunday March 4th at 3 PM ET.