New Spy Movie A Fun Ride

Gavin Gaddis


“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” in a nutshell: The Lone Ranger and Superman team up to save the world in a prequel to a television show of the same name, directed by Guy Ritchie, the man behind “Sherlock Holmes.”

While the above sentence might sound like an elevator pitch for some depraved fan fiction, it is actually a fair description of Guy Ritchie’s love letter to retro spy films.

“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” follows the basic premise of the television cult classic. A suave, smartass CIA spy is paired with a no-nonsense bulky KGB agent in Cold War Europe, spy hijinks and humorous complications ensue.

The film is torn between two styles, each vying for attention. Solo drips with the sex appeal and arrogance of a man who knows exactly how to manipulate any situation to his benefit, much in the same manner of Sean Connery-era Bond. Kuryakin channels Steve McQueen, relying on his chiseled jaw and physique to command screen presence.

The main thrust of the film is also its greatest flaw. The story exists purely out of necessity to give the characters something to act against. We all know the drill: Take the plot to “From Russia with Love” and move around some dialog and set pieces.

There’s the late night car chase, the sleuthing for clues at an affluent party, the spy boinking a femme fatale for no real reason, the threat of a nuclear war doodad and a widget aren’t secured — you know, basic spy stuff.

Solo and Kuryakin are indeed interesting characters, as well as the actors’ performances, but there’s only so much canned exposition one can take before they grow tired.

The film is committed to delivering a fun spy experience without indulging in some of the genre’s favorite foibles. There is no cigar-munching supervillain to be found in U.N.C.L.E. In fact, the person I pegged as the main villain turned out to be nothing more than an excuse for a car chase.

U.N.C.L.E. is definitely worth the price of admission to witness good acting in a lovingly crafted, stylistic representation of 1960s spy films. Be warned that beneath the retro split screen wipes, clunky gadgets, and sex appeal, there is not much else. While not as crammed with excess as “Kingsman: The Secret Service” or as serious as “Casino Royale,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is still worth your time.