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Man from U.N.C.L.E., The


Stars: Armie Hammer, Henry Cavill, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Grant, Jared Harris, Sylvester Groth, Christian Berkel

Director: Guy Ritchie

The 1960s' TV series of the same name was so popular that several of its double-episodes were shown in UK cinemas. Director Ritchie sets this new film in 1963, and tries hard to re-create the ambience of those days, but alas he does not have Robert Vaughn or David McCallum (both happily still with us). What he does have are two blocks of wood called Hammer (mysteriously top-billed) and Cavill, walking waxworks who just can't provide the jet-setting adventure with what it needs: personality - striking poses more redolent of mannequins than menaces.

And Ritchie also has a very old-hat plot (which he co-wrote) about exotic international criminals stealing nuclear warheads.

Cavill vaguely resembles James Garner at times, but has little of his relaxed charm. And I simply can't accept an Illya Kuryakin who's six inches taller than Napoleon Solo. Vikander, so wonderful in Testament of Youth, can't do much with the role of The Girl, and the chases, as with the subordinate characters, are routine and stale.

And yet there are moments. When KGB and CIA chiefs finish a meeting, the entire restaurant gets up and leaves. Solo finds wine and food in a truck (after being thrown from a speedboat) in which he casually watches Kuryakin being chased round the harbour with machine-guns. And Solo and Kuryakin discuss what to do with a prisoner, unaware that, due to an electrical fault, he is going up in flames behind their backs,

Unfortunately, these scenes don't add up to a successful film. 'This is fun,' Vikander tells the boys. Alas, for the most part, it isn't.

David Quinlan

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
116 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 11 Aug 2015