1 1/2 Stars
It was once a considered a Hollywood scarlet letter to portray a superhero in a big-budget blockbuster. Christopher Reeves suffered a career of low-grossing endeavors only to be constantly associated with his Superman screen iteration. Michael Keaton, once Batman, was nominated for an Oscar playing an actor stuck in a similar predicament. In today’s Hollywood, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Chris Hemmsworth, Chris Evans and now Henry Cavill have all stepped out of the shadows cast by their cinematic alter-egos to headline other films. Cavill takes on a role originally ear-marked for Tom Cruise, who smartly walked away when screenplay issues weren’t being solved to his liking. He should rest easy knowing that those issues still haven’t been worked out.
It’s 1963, and Cold War tensions have never been higher. CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are forced to put aside their national pride and personal hostilities, and work together to stop a mysterious criminal organization threatening a nuclear strike that will disrupt the fragile alliance between the United States and Soviet Union. The duo’s only entry point into the underworld is the daughter (Alicia Vikander) of a missing German scientist, whom they are assigned to locate in order to prevent a global nuclear incident.
Cavill and Hammer don’t create any real chemistry as far as buddy pairings. Their’s is about as successful as pairing Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy in The Man. Both stars feel as if they are reciting and a detached level of non-investment becomes distracting. Guy Ritchie ramps up his already annoying narrative tricks with more minor linear deviations and over-the-top, attention grabbing camerawork. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. may find a cult audience on home viewing, on the big-screen it feels undersized, limp and too self-aware to fulfill franchise development.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander