Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Man From U.N.C.L.E

I admit to having a weakness for Cold War spy adventures especially when they involve James Bond or Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin doing the spy stuff. I love all the 60s settings and craziness. It takes me back to the original show which was one of the few English language programs we got to see while living in Europe.

Henry Cavill is beyond smooth as Napoleon Solo. He's all style and confidence and that is what saves his life more often than his skill set, which is substantial. He is an expert on most everything and he requires all that knowledge because he is running the long con. He's the greatest con man in the spy game and just the right man for the mission.

Cavill is very well cast. He has such a great tone to his voice that is very much a deliberate acting choice and it's the perfect choice. It sets everything in it's own time and place. But you would expect that from a movie directed by Guy Richie who makes this one his most confident movie yet. He has a vision and damn if he doesn't realize it. Great editing and inventive cinematography always give you something fresh and fun to look at. I never knew if the good guys to make the right decisions and that is thrilling for someone like me who reveres a good spy thriller.

Then there is Ilya. (Armie Hammer) More of a thug than David McCallum ever was but in this movie it works. Ilya is the crazy one and Solo is the cool one. Their relationship is fun to see develop. Or not develop as it were. I do love that Russian accent. No one does sarcasm like the Soviet. I always admired that the most about them. Watching these two spies talk high fashion is a special treat.

The movie plays at the highest of stakes and everyone is having a great time playing their parts to the max. The lighting is great, the music is great and the entire production just dances with the colors and design styles of the early 60s. Great eye candy all around especially for someone like me who finds those kind of details irresistible.

From the fight choreography to the car chases (in those crappy Yugos) I was both charmed and thrilled. This is a high concept and to make it work you have to go full retard on the execution. This movie takes those chances and sets it's own kind of groovy mood. I loved it all. The first 20 minutes is just about as good a chase/escape scene as has ever been in a movie.

The storytelling here deserves special attention. The lies that both governments tell their agents is just the kind of thing you would expect during the Cold War of my dreams. The way the writer delivered important background information to the audience is fresh and comes at you fast, just like it should. The film assumes we can keep the details straight in our heads for at least two hours. Just full speed ahead.

The women for once are as important as the men in this adventure. I like that neither Alicia Vikander or Elizabeth Debicki gets shortchanged with some great scenes where they get to have as much fun as the boys are having.

This film is never boring and also could pass for a European travelogue. It's smart and fun. I would put it with Kingsmen for the perfect double feature. If they don't turn this team into a franchise then they are missing out on magic here. I go to the movies to be entertained and damn if this film didn't entertain me from beginning to end.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I was bound and determined not to see this movie but you're starting to persuade me that perhaps I should. I just don't want anyone to replace the original Ilya in my heart and imagination.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I thought the exact same thing. I didn't go to see it in the theatre. I waited until I could download the DVD and I am glad I did. Once you realize that there is NO Ilya like OUR Ilya you can accept Armie Hammer easily. He's a good substitute and when you remember that he was a also the Lone Ranger it makes it easy to take.

But there will never be another Ilya.

david_b said...

LOVE Cold War films..., I still pull out and enjoy 'Missiles of October' (1974) with William Devane and Martin Sheen.

One of my all-time favs, along with Ice Station Zebra and Fail Safe (the sista movie to Dr Strangelove..).

Like Debra, I was resisting this flick due to my devotion to the television series, but it looks like I'll have to take a look.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

ICE STATION ZEBRA is in my top 10 of all time. Such a great cast. Patrick McGoogan making trouble, the soldiers at the top of the world. The switched and exploded canister. Damn that alister mcclain was good.
I am gonna download that one now.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Dr. Strangelove is perfect. So many great moments and that phone call between the President from the war room is so iconic.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I am downloading Ice Station Now. I need to watch that one again.Love me some Strangelove as well.