Before I begin this review, I have to acknowledge a mistake I made in my Fantastic Four review. This is not the year of disappointing movies; it is the summer of disappointing movies. A few films that came out before June 1st (which is unofficially when Summer starts) that were admirable (or pleasantly surprising): Cinderella, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, It Follows, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Furious 7, and Mad Max: Fury Road (which should win Best Picture). But what does this summer have to show off? Of the movies I’ve seen, only: Inside Out, Spy, Ant-Man, and Mission: Impossible-Rouge Nation. While: Self/Less, Jurassic World, Mr. Holmes, Southpaw, Fantastic Four, and now, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. are the reasons I am officially naming this summer, “The Summer of Disappointments.”
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is directed by Guy Ritchie and written by: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Jeff Kleeman, and David C. Wilson. Stars-Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, and Elizabeth Debicki. Premise- An adaptation of the 1964 TV series of the same name, American spy Solo (Cavill) and Russian spy Illya (Hammer) must join forces to stop an evil organization from becoming the next nuclear power.
The biggest problem I have with this movie is the acting. Don’t get me wrong, I love Henry Cavill in Man of Steel and Immortals, and Armie Hammer gave a breakthrough performance in The Social Network. Cavill is charming and Armie is dramatic, but that is literally the only way they each act throughout the duration of the movie. Due to the actors keeping the same facial expression, and tone of voice throughout the action, I never completely felt the tension this movie tries to build. That’s quite a problem when your movie’s primary genre is action. Speaking of failing your job, the action in this movie is pretty underwhelming. With the exception of the first scene (which I’ll talk about later), all other action scenes are pretty forgettable. What makes this even worse is that every scene that is not action driven is nothing but exposition. There are not many scenes that develop character. Look at Furiosa (aka the best female protagonist since Helen Ripley/Sarah Connor) from Mad Max: Fury Road. She was tough, but not invincible. I was able to get emotionally invested in her endeavors because she was able to. There is one scene in U.N.C.L.E. where Illya dances with someone he fancies. During that scene, he breaks the ‘tough guy’ persona and I saw some character. Sadly, the scene ends (quite idiotically) and I am left in disappointment. Another flaw with this story is the ending. It’s predictable, clichéd, and implausible. Now that I think about it, so is the rest of the movie. Every spy movie cliché can be found here, but unlike films like The Cabin in the Woods where they take the clichés of the genre, add their own creativity and satirical humor, and make something new and enjoyable, U.N.C.L.E. does not. This makes for a very uninterestingly bland movie.
Despite everything I’ve said, there are a few redeeming qualities about this flick. For one, the jokes are mostly funny. Some fall flat, but due to Cavill’s charm, most hit home. And of course, the opening scene. It’s suspenseful, exciting, and sets up the characters very well. Unfortunately, that is all I can praise this film for. Bottom line, this movie is more boring than disappointing. The acting is fine, but has no direction. The action is standard, and the story is generic. Considering this was directed by the guy who directed by the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes films, I expected much, much better. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a C.