It was perhaps a questionable decision to attempt a film reboot of this 1960s TV series, given the very crowded field of international spy films from James Bond to Jason Bourne to Ethan Hunt, and maybe the lukewarm reviews and box office this was met with underlines that. However, it would be a shame for Guy Ritchie’s big-screen reinvention to be entirely forgotten, as it makes the most of the few things it has which stand out (particularly its period setting), and is no less shallow or forgettable than most of its peers. Much like Ritchie’s earlier Sherlock Holmes adaptation (and its equally enjoyable sequel), this treads a fine line between recreating its time period and gently pastiching it, while retaining many of the elements that made the television show such a success.

Just as movies from the 60s weren’t able to manage the large-scale destruction we see in action films now, this grand homage to them all is forced to scale things back and focus more on style and delivery rather than bombast, which is no bad thing. Many of the stylistic flourishes of the time are recreated here, which lends the film a hip and retro charm, helped enormously by a talented and ludicrously good-looking cast. Away from aesthetics, things slightly fall apart, as a weak script with little sense of urgency or dynamism never really takes off, but the visual choices carry it over the finish line, as does the admirable decision to ignore the trend for loudly updating old franchises for the present day in favour of embracing the past and all the style that comes with that.

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
Yet another international spy film based on earlier material5
Standing out from the others though, by embracing its period setting8
Recreating the style and structure of 1960s action movies8
Otherwise following a very generic and quite dull framework4
Sometimes style over substance is absolutely fine8
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel Test Failures
  • n/a
7Overall Score

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