Lowdown: At the height of the Cold War, a CIA secret agent cooperates with a KGB one to save the world from atomic terrorism.
Alternate versions of the James Bond themes have been common as muck recently (Spy, Kingsman: The Secret Service). However, if you ask me, ruling them all in the fun department is this latest incarnation from director Guy Ritchie, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. For a change this is not a movie of Ritchie's featuring many a famous star constantly mumbling to themselves in rather unintelligible style as per Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch. No, this is proper golden era James Bond stuff with the fun setting raised up a good few notches.
As it turns out, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is based on a sixties TV series. It even takes place in the sixties. Or is it the fifties? Probably sixties, given the color palette chosen for this movie. Anyway, we follow the convicted thief, now turned CIA agent, Napoleon Solo (aka the recent Man of Steel, Henry Cavill) as he tries to rescue a “female asset”, Gabriella (Ex Machina’s Alicia Vikander), from East Germany. Only that this super talented agent has to fight off the equally super talented KGB agent assigned to stop him, Illya (the completely not Russian Armie Hammer).
Following a James Bond style expose, the unbelievable happens: the two archenemies are tasked to work together, as in cooperatively, to stop a terrorist organisation led by the glamorous Victoria (Aussie Elizabeth Debicki) from using the invention of Gabriella uncle. An invention that would totally revolutionise nuclear weaponary and put such bombs in the hands of all willing villains. Cue the floodgates for tons of action scenes and sexual escapades, Bond style.
Style is the keyword here (and definitely not substance). Ritchie was/is clearly oozing with it; throw in a Tarantino style soundtrack into all the visceral action (as opposed to the softish CGI action we’re mostly fed with nowadays) and you got yourself two hours of movie fun. Nothing more than fun, but oh, what great fun it is! Yes, Cavill seems rather limited in his acting (whether intentional or not is unclear), but Hammer and Vikander do an excellent job.
P.S. Do not expect this movie's name to make sense until the very ending, which sets things up nicely for a potential sequel. A kind of a "James Bond will return in..." goodbye.
Overall: Fun, fun, fun in the sixties sun, sun, sun. 4 out of 5 crabs.