‘Man from U.N.C.L.E’ Reviews: Guy Ritchie’s Spy Thriller Rings H.O.L.L.O.W With Critics

Reviewers say film is fun, but ultimately lacks substance

Last Updated: August 14, 2015 @ 1:22 PM

Guy Ritchie’s “The Man From U.N.C.L.E,” a stylish remake of the 1960’s TV show of the same name, is drawing mixed reviews from critics ahead of its opening weekend due to its stylish nature but perceived lack of substance.

In the Warner Bros. film, American CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are forced to team up at the height of the Cold War in order to stop a mysterious crime syndicate that wants to plunge the planet into World War III.

Most critics seem to agree the film is a fun, slick thrill ride, but warn fans that anyone expecting anything deeper will be left disappointed.

TheWrap’s Alonso Durale wrote in his review of the film,

“Ultimately, the actors find the right balance between committing to the material and acknowledging that none of this is to be taken too seriously, and the steady parade of 1960s hats and high-tech and Euro-pop singles makes ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ a breezy cinematic distraction that never pretends to go any deeper than its television roots.”

Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times wrote:

“There are certainly kicks to be had in watching beautiful people in glamorous clothes in luxuriously exotic Mediterranean locations, hopping among speedboats, helicopters and race cars, but the film’s pleasures are all surface and fleeting.”

Ty Burr of the Boston Globe:

“As directed by Guy Ritchie in what is, for him, energy-saving mode, ‘Man’ is a celebration of a time when secret agents dressed impeccably, bantered with style, and had exceptionally cool toys. That the movie is almost instantly forgettable is part of the pleasure.”

Michael Granberry of the Dallas Morning News:

“It’s got all the ingredients – improbable romances, partial nudity, ridiculous escapes – that make it little more than big-sound and big-picture fodder for the Imax screens it will appear on throughout the country. Sorry, but this one will fly solo into oblivion.”

Jesse Hassenger of The A.V. Club:

“All of the actors look great in roles that are more visual than anything else, predicated on details like Vikander’s mod sunglasses or Cavill’s slick coif; these characters don’t have convincing lives outside the impeccably decorated frame. But plenty still happens in that unseen space.”

Dave Calhoun of Time Out:

“This is far from perfect. A late scene referencing the Nazi torturer-surgeon Josef Mengele is weirdly distasteful. Also, the movie enters an annoying hyped-up phase late in the game as the action takes over. But ‘U.N.C.L.E.’ has enough style and smarts to make it an amusingly louche summer movie: a cultivated mix of action and wit, suits and cities, that feels refreshingly analogue in a digital world.”


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