Friday, August 14, 2015

The Man From UNCLE Review: A Stylish Adaptation

The movie world is no stranger to spy films. The genre type has been known to entertain moviegoers with its thrilling tone and dynamic tales. The film world is also no stranger to the likes of TV series heading to the silver screen. For years filmmakers have created new takes on some of pop culture's most cherish television shows; with few making a fitting transition. So what happens when you combine these two film types together? Normally one might say you get Mission: Impossible, but in this case you get the 2015 summer blockbuster: The Man from UNCLE. Directed by Guy Ritchie, The Man from UNCLE is based on the 1964 television series about two secret agents joining forces to face a common enemy. From watching the previews, there was definitely a style behind this film. Yet with so many movies making up both genres, could The Man from UNCLE stand out as both a spy movie and a TV adaptation?

The story of this spy film follows CIA operative Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill). After extracting asset Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) from easy Germany, Solo comes across Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer): a KGB agent who chased Napoleon through Germany. It turns out that the Solo and Kuryakin must work together to find Gaby's scientist father, and stop the criminal organization run by Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki).  With a power struggle on the brink, can the two spies put their differences aside to save the day?

The story of Man from UNCLE certainly felt like a spy story. The plot stuck to the tone that spy movies are known for, and it also provided plenty of twist and turns. Along with this point was the origin factor that many movies these days are known for implementing. In the case of The Man from UNCLE, this element helped by creating dynamics for the characters; and it made it easy for people unfamiliar with the show to get into the concept of The Man from UNCLE.  While the story was definitely engaging, there were some issues in this spy plot. While the film's style flourished, there were time where the direction dictated the story a little too much. It may not have been a horrid combination but the stylish factor could make certain plot points feel excessive. Still even with this issues, the plot to The Man from UNCLE was still an engaging tale about espionage.

I found myself enjoying the cast of The Man from UNCLE. I thought both Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer were fantastic as the two spies. Both actors' mannerism made for charismatic characters, and their chemistry created a dynamic pairing fitting for any spy movie. I also found myself liking Alicia Vikander as Gaby Teller. While there were times where Teller came off to as a damsel in distress, there were also plenty of moments that made Gaby a strong character; and Vikander's performance was indeed a solid one. The only issue I had with the cast was the villain. This not to say that Victoria Vinciguerra was not a bad antagonist for this genre, nor does it mean that Elizabeth Debicki had a lackluster performance. However the villain had very little background and development, which made her impact in the overall presentation a bit underwhelming. The movie also had a good supporting cast featuring the likes of Jared Harris and Hugh Grant. Unfortunately this supporting cast did not have the biggest of presences, which made them a little forgettable. In the end the cast to this movie had some issues, but it still manged to be a suitable ensemble for the film.

When it came to the film's more technical element, there were plenty of factors that help The Man from UNCLE stand out. The cinematography from John Mathieson was quite fitting for film as it captured both the time period and the atmosphere of a spy movie. I also like the music for the film. Both the score by Daniel Pemberton and the used music managed to be fitting the film's presentation. The action to the film was exciting albeit expected. The film may not have the most action sequences that I have seen this year, but they did work for the movie; especially opening chase scene. All of these elements managed to compliment the movie's stylish direction. While this direction was bit extensive, especially in the movie's montage sequences, it still managed to get its point across and create a outlandish atmosphere for this spy film.

The Man from UNCLE may not have changed the game when it comes to spy or TV adapted films, but it was still a solid movie. With a strong cast and direction, this movie stands out while being a entertaining blockbuster. Though I cannot say just how well Sam Rolfe's creation was adapted to the silver screen, I can however say that The Man from UNCLE was indeed a stylish rendition to the TV series.

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