It seems Hollywood is running out of bankable franchises. Which is one of the reasons classic 1960s TV series The Man From Uncle has finally been given a multi million dollar reboot courtesy of Guy Ritchie.
Ritchie is a smart cookie, and he knows the action thriller saga has been done to death over the years, so his approach to the genre is giving audiences style over substance.
British thesp Henry Cavill makes a good fist of playing American hero Napoleon Solo, while American Armie Hammer is spot on as his Russian nemesis/ally Ilya Kuryakin.
Set in the early 1960s, like the TV series, we are treated to vistas of computer generated scenery, some of which are believable and some look like a glorified cut scene from a video game.
It’s not a bad film not by any means. If it resembles anything, it’s X-Men First Class, a tongue in cheek take on the James Bond saga from an era when Sean Connery was helping to create a template that several generations of filmmakers would copy.
Sadly, it was not as engaging as Richie’s Sherlock Holmes movies from a few years ago, though he resorted to similar story telling methods.
He loves giving us one version of events, and then filling in the blanks with clever flashbacks. At times it was a little annoying, like a sub-standard version of Sherlock the TV series.
Elizabeth Debicki as Victoria Vinciguerra and Alicia Vikander as Gabriella “Gaby” Teller added glamour, malevolence and fun, Debicki especially chewing every scene she graced.
Hugh Grant was also spot on as British protagonist Waverley, his delivery in the third act helping the maddening split screen excesses and erratic chase scenes.
In short, it was like leafing through a 1960s Vogue or *GQ for two hours with characters as indifferent as catwalk models. Fun, but a bit too cool for school.
*Yes, I know GQ wasn’t around in the early 60s.