Fast-paced, action packed, and wittingly humorous; The Man from U.N.C.L.E brings together some of the latest and greatest of acting potential with the likes of Henry Cavill and Alicia Vikander gracing the big screen in this iconic production by Guy Ritchie. With big hits under his belt with the likes of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. – there are high expectations to be found for his latest piece of work.
Napoleon Solo is our main protagonist – a suave, selfassured, all-American agent with endless amounts of charisma that brings instant likeability. Cavill fully embraces this stereotypical persona with a flawless American accent that, coupled with his extensive knowledge and boundless confidence, brings to the fore the audiences archetypal characteristics of a film generated CIA agent. Solo, when faced with his enemy-come-partner Illya (Armie Hammer), brings sharp witticisms to add effective humour to the unsteady relationship that slowly balances itself out throughout the film. On the other hand, Illya initially gives the impression of a combative KGB brute with a persistence to complete the mission at hand. It is Hammer’s characters collaboration with both Solo and Gaby (Vikander) that helps him to develop, building strong lasting relationships with the two and allowing him to contain his deep-seated emotions surrounding his shameful past.
The relationship between Illya and Solo shows the constrained affiliation that the Americans and Russians held for each other; both trying to surpass the other to prove their capability and superiority. Stuck in the middle is Gaby, a strong-headed and stoic individual who does not give in lightly to the part she must play whilst hiding her own secret from the two agents. Sarcasm radiates from Vikander’s character bringing quick and effective light-hearted, laugh out loud humour that adds immensely to the telling of the narrative. It is her strained relationship with Illya that ultimately brings about his development changing him from the pig-headed, diligent agent found at the beginning to the more genial, caring man found towards the end.
Light and dark becomes a significant filmic device in order to highlight secrecy and villainy throughout the film – reflecting the time period during the Cold War and the tension between USA and the USSR, the strained relationship between Solo and Illya, and the evil intentions of a secret criminal organisation threatening to disrupt the already fragile allegiance between the two superpowers. The association between the two central characters is highlighted further through Ritchie’s use of screen splitting – a technique frequently used during action scenes to display the way in which Solo and Illya work together though clearly at odds regarding their affiliation.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I found it entertaining, humorous and actionpacked. The blend of actors helped to define the film bringing charisma and grade ‘A’ acting alongside credible, developing characters with likeability. Bags of laugh out loud scenes added a light-hearted feel to the film targeting a wider audience and providing a memorable cinema experience.