Guy Ritchie’s movie adaptation of the extremely popular sixties TV show of the same name sees Henry Cavill take on the role of suave American spy Napoleon Solo, with Armie Hammer as the much more stoic KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, all with the kind of stylistic touches that are immediately reminiscent of his Sherlock Holmes adaptations (back in 09 and 11). The director’s approach here isn’t as unreal looking as in those previous films, but it is what eventually ruins the movie – indeed, this is one of the best examples of how overuse of music in a film can be destructive: his choice of tracks is very good, but they are essentially used as a constant vehicle for narrative removing any sense of story or characterisation from the film. Cavill has been aptly cast as Solo, but Hammer’s initial Russian accent delivery is enough to make entire continents cringe aghast, although it does become less annoying as time goes on – I’m not sure if that is because it improves, or just because he has less lines to deliver as the music dominates over everything.
The pace is adequate, if a little ponderous, and the opening does suggest a lot of promise – which is unfortunately never delivered, as the two spies are lumped together for the first time by their respective governments in a mission that will be a precursor to the founding of U.N.C.L.E.: together they must attempt to thwart a nuclear threat on the world in general, from spurious bad guys up to no good as usual. An attempted emphasis has been placed on creating a light-hearted, fun action film with a focus on comedy, largely via the abrasive union between the two agents destined to become friends, and visually in this sense the film finds some success but alas the jokes never fully fire off the way they were intended, it’s all a little obvious and a little stilted. Hopefully Ritchie doesn’t repeat the same mistakes in his upcoming ‘King Arthur’ flick, as his track record disappointingly suggests it may be aimed as just another vacuous and irrelevant franchise anchor.