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The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Cavill (left) and Hammer Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

<em>The Man from U.N.C.L.E.</em>
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In the 1960s, while James Bond was regularly taking over the box office, Bond writer Ian Fleming suggested “Napoleon Solo” as the name of another womanizing, besuited spy working for an international government organization called U.N.C.L.E. After premiering on NBC in 1964, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. went on to rival CBS’ Mission: Impossible in popularity; but eventually, as TV was overrun with spies, it became almost a satire of its own genre.

Guy Ritchie’s reboot (which he directed and co-wrote) jumps straight to the satire—which seems appropriate, considering its release during a glut of action movies, including yet another Mission: Impossible sequel. But Ritchie manages to apply a light touch without falling into the ridiculous in a movie that is still more comedy than action movie.

Like the show, the movie is less about plot and more about the two (yes, two) men who end up working for U.N.C.L.E. Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are reluctant Cold War espionage partners in aiding—or using—Gaby (Alicia Vikander) to find her father, a nuclear scientist.

If the dynamic between the three main characters didn’t work, the movie wouldn’t work either, because the fight scenes are visual gags and the plot is plainly ridiculous. But the banter is quick, the men are handsome, the woman beautiful (and smarter than the average Bond girl), and, much as in his 2009 Sherlock Holmes remake, Ritchie’s tongue-in-cheek style reminds the audience not to take it too seriously.

Despite the light tone, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is rated PG-13 for action violence, some suggestive content (such as sexual innuendo), and partial nudity. There is also torture played for comedy, and one man is fried in an electric chair in a scene that is only partly offscreen.

Alicia M. Cohn Alicia is a former WORLD contributor.


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