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Guy Ritchie’s “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”: 2015 is the year of the retro spy movie

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Quietly, this year is turning into the year of the retro feeling spy movie. Yes, 2015 has had no shortage of the genre getting some really nice outings, even ones that are more modern than retro. Without even batting an eye I can rattle off titles this year like Kingsmen: The Secret Service, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and Spy, with the James Bond outing Spectre still to come. Also, of course, is one other thing. Yes, we have this weekend’s release of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well, the latest film from Guy Ritchie and apparently, like some of 2015’s other genre outings, one of the better spy movie outings of the last few years.

The movie is an adaptation of the Sam Rolfe created television program, which also was a spy show, obviously. Here, it’s a 1960’s set spy thriller, centered around CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) having to team up in order to basically save the world from nuclear destruction. The aforementioned Ritchie directs here and co-writes with Jeff Kleeman, Lionel Wigram, and David C. Wilson, while the rest of the cast aside from Cavill and Hammer includes Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant, Jared Harris, Elizabeth Debicki, Sylvester Groth, and many more. They all combine for something that’s a real throwback to the spy days of yore.

It’s genuinely interesting to me to look at how The Man from U.N.C.L.E. has evolved. From the TV show to the long gestating film, it originally was conceived as a remake that Steven Soderbergh was going to make with George Clooney in the lead role of Solo. Oddly enough though, it seems like the combination of Cavill, Hammer, and Ritchie is exactly the right mixture to make this silly little spy movie work, as you’ll all see this week (side note, kinda cool to see the man currently playing Superman team up with the man once slated to play Batman, right?). They really double down on the fun and retro/vintage feel, making for something that folks will apparently really enjoy in just a few days time.

I really enjoy a good spy flick, so to see a gaggle of them this year manage to be not only effective, but well liked as well…well, that’s just an added bonus. This one is sure to be enjoyed by the masses, as it played well at Comic Con recently (this did seem to be the year of the high quality con Trailer), in addition to just generally building positive buzz all around. Ritchie’s film more or less caps off the summer movie season too, in addition to the run of quality spy releases, at least until Spectre in the fall. It’s almost an embarrassment of riches, when you really think about it. The genre is one of the most fun that there is, so this is somewhat thrilling, at least to me.

Overall, this Friday brings audiences one more top notch spy adventure for 2015 with The Man from U.N.C.L.E., with the added bonus of it being a throwback to the sorts of things we used to get in cinemas far more often than we currently do. Ritchie’s work has been getting bigger and more modern each time out, regardless of the setting, so it’s nice to see him really throw himself into the 60’s setting while making his most overt blockbuster yet. Different enough from Kingsmen: The Secret Service and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation in order to stand out from the pack, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is as satisfying a spy flick as fans are likely to get. It stands alongside those other releases this year, boldly and proudly…

Be sure to check out The Man from U.N.C.L.E. this weekend, in theaters everywhere!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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