One of the more intriguing cinematic offerings this summer is Guy Ritchie’s big-screen adaptation of the 60s TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Known for his knockbout crime thrillers Ritchie recently took on the mighty Sherlock Holmes and served up a neat take on Conan Doyle’s famed detective. So, a character-led spy thriller should be just the ticket for the filmmaker and with current Superman Henry Cavill and Lone Ranger Armie Hammer as well as Ritchie’s eye for the exciting detail this should be a lot of fun.
Ritchie’s scene is set as Napoleon Solo (Cavill) travels to Berlin after the war to find Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), the estranged daughter of AWOL, Nazi-favoured rocket scientist Dr.Udo Teller. Solo is intercepted by KGB spy Illya Kuryakin (Hammer) who’s also there to extract information from Teller. To put it mildly they don’t get on.
The casting obviously critical to the film’s success. It seems as if Ritchie has found his perfect double act.
Henry Cavill spoke about the moral shades of grey important to his character, “He’s not career CIA; in fact, he’s kind of anti-establishment. He acquired his skillset dealing art and antiques on the black market after sneaking his way into post-war European high society, and was so good that no one could catch him for years. It’s something he took a great deal of pride in.”
Armie Hammer’s Kuryakin is his mirror opposite, as the actor explains, “He’s a classic spy. He grew up in the system and rose through the ranks and he’s very by the book. His lifelong goal was to be a KGB operative and that’s the most important thing to him.”
Ritchie himself talked up the fascination of the buddy movie through this particular prism. “It’s a zone I find fascinating, the way men interact with each other. Even going back to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), I’m drawn to that male-to-male dynamic as kind of a genre unto itself,”
While Ritchie’s previous films have been very male-dominated this time around Alicia Vikander and Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki, who plays chief antagonist Victoria Vinciguerra, will balance out the testosterone espionage.
“I loved the fact that they made her a cool, tomboyish girl with a lot of character. Gaby was brought up in a man’s world and so she’s quite feisty and she knows how to stand her ground,” Vikander says of her character.
“If anything, she has a tough time relaxing and pretending she wants to be just a pretty housewife, and I think it’s partly her desire to assert her independence that causes sparks to fly between her and Illya.”
What we’re hoping for from The Man from U.N.C.L.E is a charged embodiment of the changing face of gender and global politics. The two-headed male leads, common to recent Ritchie films, will surely be played for laughs as much as for thrills. From everything we’ve seen so far The Man from U.N.C.L.E will be a stylish, substantial film.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is released in Cineworld Cinemas 14 August 2015