Viewers know how these films will end, with the baddies captured and the heroes giving themselves a pat on the back for a job well done.
Viewers, however, may enjoy British director Guy Ritchie's The Man from U.N.C.L.E., based on the US TV series that ran four seasons during the 1960s.
The two stars, Englishman Henry Cavill playing US spy Napoleon Solo and American Armie Hammier playing Russian Illya, give it their best shot with the accents and hackneyed plot.
An early scene sees Solo spiriting out sexy German mechanic Gaby (Alicia Vikander of Sweden) from Berlin, with athletic Illya in hot pursuit.
This happens during the 1963 TV speech of former US president John. F. Kennedy on US policy in Eastern Europe.
Solo's boss Sanders (Jared Harris) and Illya's boss Oleg (Misha Kuznetsov) order both of them to work together to find Gaby's nuclear scientist father Udo (Christian Berkel of Germany). They do so reluctantly, and only after a homoerotic wrestling match in a park toilet.
I'd like to think of this film as a bromance, with both actors standing tall, muscular and handsome. Never mind that their attention is occasionally distracted by des belles femmes.
Solo is mostly dressed in tight suits. He's a slick art thief and burglar, who reminds me of Matt Bomer's character in TV show White Collar, who plays an ex-forger coopted to work for the FBI.
Illya is casually dressed in sweaters. His main tic is his trembling hands, which signify the onset of his anger. Think of him as a Russian Hulk.
|Will Cavill or Hammer come out on top |
(of the other person)?
They are to infiltrate an Italian shipping firm headed by tall married blonde Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki of Australia), whose employee Rudi (Sylvester Groth of Germany) is Gaby's uncle.
The firm has ties to Nazis and the spies think the disappearance of Gaby's dad is linked to it.
Victoria is described as a "real fanatic", and the one with beauty, brains and ambition. She also has a healthy sex appetite (sex positive), seen when she beds Solo. She thinks Solo is no match for her, and even calls him Napoleon, which Solo says is used only by his mum.
The film can't handle a dominant woman, so I'll leave it to viewers to think how she'll be disposed of.
Rudi, meanwhile, espouses his Nazi views by taunting Illya, who is pretending to be Gaby's architect fiance. Rudi says that a racehorse shouldn't mix with a common horse (Illya). He has a proclivity for torture, so viewers know he'll get his just deserts.
The pairing of Illya and Gaby is interesting because of their fathers. Illya's dad has been banished to Siberia because he had embezzled funds. Gaby searches for her dad, but later says that she lost him a long time ago.
The film's depiction of the Swinging Sixties is spot on, with the clothes, tiny cars, and English and Italian pop songs carrying the film along nicely. It's also happy to use multiple scenes that are edited to show many things happening simultaneously.
2½ out of 5 stars