One of the few directors working whose films are prefaced at least informally with their own moniker, a “Guy Richie” film.
For those of a certain age, the film title will conjure up all sorts of nostalgia. This series was as cool as it got when first screened. Of course depicting an era with Russia and the U.S. fighting a cold war and with Germany divided by the Berlin wall, may well represent new information for younger audiences.
Inhabiting the two main roles are Solo (Hanry Cavill), as convicted master thief, serial womaniser and pardoned secret agent and Illya (Arnie Hammer), a brilliant but dour Russian KGB agent with emotional baggage and anger management problems.
Following the rescue of “Gabby” (Alicia Vikander) pretty daughter of a nuclear weapons genius from behind the Berlin Wall, the ill matched agents will have to learn to work together instead of attempting to kill each other.
After a male bonding session causing a public lavatory to be destroyed, it is obvious both agents have complementary talents and these will come in useful for their new assignment. Locate the technician, find the nuclear device and save the world, the usual stuff.
Richie clearly wanted to recreate 60’s cool, the outfits of all involved are lovingly created as are the locations, helicopters, cars and backgrounds. Making the period groovy to millennial’s does not come cheap and all departments have pulled out all the stops to make the period setting come alive.
The story is largely irrelevant but involves sinister going’s on and unusually a great female villain for the pairing to outwit. Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki) is both aloof, ruthless and utterly devoid of any scruples, the perfect 60’s evil mastermind.
The film is light and frothy, a chase sequence set in a dock is fun and played exquisitely for laughs, representing everything old style Bond used to be, before he got all serious. The perfect planning, the nonchalance and impossible derring do, all without a hair out of place.
Vikander is game for the rough and tumble and matches the boys easily with her tomboyish but still very feminine charms. Outfitted in a mechanics boiler suite one minute, hot to trot in a mini skirt and Onassis style glasses the next.
There is a slight darker change in tone as Solo gets into serious danger with Uncle Rudi (Goth) but director Ritchie saves the day with a sight gag that rescues the scene. As is usual the director cannot resist adding flair to the visual style and the closing hyper cool 60’s split screen assault, is well edited and great fun to watch.
The film arguably suffers from the absence of real “star power” neither Cavill or Hammer are real “A” listers yet and whilst Hugh Grant pops in playing their ultimate boss, albeit playing Hugh Grant, the film still lacks that indefinable cinematic wattage.
More fun than you might have been led to believe, a soufflé of cinematic charm and spy capers tied to an eclectic soundtrack makes for a fun evenings entertainment.
Clearly a sequel was envisaged but poor box office returns might do what master villains could never do, prevent the next U.N.C.L.E mission, which is a pity as there is more mileage in the franchise.