The Man from U.N.C.L.E
Guy Ritchie got married the other week, to his beautiful partner of five years and mother of their two young children. It’s probably unrelated, but his cinematic return to form is such a joyous, exquisitely created piece of unadulterated entertainment, one imagines he’s entered a truly fulfilled phase in his life. So hoorah for him, but more so for us!
You needn’t have watched the 1960s TV series of the same name, since Ritchie ensures right from the opening titles (a cross between old-school James Bond and Marvel comic magic) that we are whisked back in time to a Cold War setting where everything looks just as it should, and the actors know exactly how to play it. Enter our updated spy squad, decked out in spot-on 1960s fashions: the newest Superman, Henry Cavill, is superb as American agent Napoleon Solo, a genuine leading man in charisma and gait, who teams up with KGB operative Illya Kuryakin to save the world from nuclear oblivion (The Social Network’s Armie Hammer, wonderfully droll and showing real talent). The troisième of their ménage is the adorable Alicia Vikander, a rising Swedish star whose work in A Royal Affair and Ex Machina proves she is far more than an extremely pretty face. This perfectly cast threesome engage in secret agent action which is touchingly old-fashioned – where cars were manual, computer disks were the size of saucers and bugs looked just like, well, bugs.
In compiling his team (bringing back a surprisingly good Hugh Grant and showcasing Elizabeth Debicki who will soon be seen in Macbeth), Ritchie has recaptured the brio of his early crime capers with this beautifully-photographed, sensationally sound-tracked piece of joie de vivre. Even though his co-written screenplay sometimes relies a bit too much on exposition, the witty repartee between the unwilling players is hilarious, and Ritchie exploits all opportunities to show off period camerawork with zooms and split-screens aplenty.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E is ripe for a sequel – here’s hoping the director’s happiness lasts long enough to afford us one.