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There are spoilers in this review. Duh!

I personally have never seen the old TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E. so I went into this movie with zero knowledge about it. I could tell from the costumes that it wasn’t made in modern day, and it was about spies, but that was about it. I knew that I loved Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill, and that I generally see all Guy Ritchie movies because I love his visual style and sense of humor. I went in with medium expectations, another Snatch would be great, and came out of it with my sides hurting from laughter. There were several moments in this movie that were laugh out loud funny, and when I try to retell these scenes, I start giggling just thinking about it. I have a deep affection for movies that don’t take themselves seriously, and I especially enjoy spy movies that do it.  This movie is witty, charming, and it is a shame that the theater was practically empty when I went to see it. Here’s hoping the international box office was good, because I want to see more.

The year is 1963 and the Cold War is in full swing, while the aftermath of WWII is still very tense in Europe. Slick American thief-turned-CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is forced to team up with KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to stop mercenary/terrorists from getting their hands on a nuclear device. German mechanic Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) is the daughter of a former Nazi scientist who has gone missing and has the knowledge to build a bomb. The American and Russian intelligence forces are teaming up for the good of the nuclear arms race, although with both sides knowing that whoever gets their hands on this scientist (and his bombs) will have power over the other. Solo, Illya, and Gaby have to put aside their differences to try and save the world. Gaby and Illya have to pretend to be engaged in order to get close to her uncle and find her father. He’s not too happy about it and he is very strict and disciplined, and she has so much sass that he barely knows what to do with this spitfire. A scene is set up that could be romantic with them, where she teasingly dances with him but then slaps him in the face with his own hand. It’s hilarious, I promise. Solo on the other hand sort of Moms the other two, giving commentary on their performances, and presents himself to the villainess Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki) as a sexy thief sniffing around her business.

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Things go terribly, terribly wrong as their covers are all pretty easily blown and they have to find a way to survive and save the day regardless. And maybe become a workable team in the process? Unsurprisingly, they do win, and then they are tasked with becoming a regular team of spies, codenamed U.N.C.L.E. I want to note here that I love Gaby was included in the group. A lot of the trailers indicated she was just the mark or the civilian to their super spies, but she proved herself quickly to be just as devious and skilled as they were. Her sexual tension with Illya and the chemistry between all three make me really wish this series would continue. I want to see them in more adventures together! Napoleon’s polished arrogance really plays to Henry Cavill’s strengths, and you can tell he’s enjoying his time in this role more than Superman,  probably. Armie has to play the stiff and serious one of the group, and he’s hilariously intense the whole time. This is more of an origin story than anything else, and that’s why we need more.

The plot is a little simple, although it gets complicated when not everyone’s motives are genuine in the beginning. But the strength of this movie rests definitely with the cast and the overall clever, stylistic feel of the film. Guy Ritchie has gotten better over the years, I think. There’s a maturity to the way he picks shots and the vision he has now. I love his other movies, but they’re always a little face paced and hectic and relies on the fact it’s all confusing to get by. This one felt as precise as the others are intentionally sloppy. I’ve always appreciated that his action tends to be comical; there’s a scene in this where Napoleon enjoys a picnic while he watches Illya be chased around a marina on a boat with guns blazing. It’s perfect. There are chase scenes and shoot outs in this, but they are clever and don’t overstay their welcome. I especially have to appreciate the villain in this movie is a powerful woman; Victoria’s as evil as she is sophisticated, and I love it. It’s clear that the actors are having a delightful time while shooting, and the behind the scenes video prove that there’s a genuine camaraderie between them. That chemistry bleeds through to the screen. Ritchie uses the period well, in terms of costume, setting, story, and music. Anyone who enjoys comical action films should check it out. It’s entertaining to watch, the characters are unique and likable, and you walk out of it going ‘you know what, I’d see more of those.’ More The Man from U.N.C.L.E., less James Bond if you ask me.

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