What is good about this movie is that it’s visually perfect. What’s bad about this movie is that it’s visually perfect. I rather enjoyed it but from a distance, unlike, say, The Avengers, where you cared about the characters.
I was not a fan of the television series so I can’t compare the two. The basic plot seems to be the same. Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin begin as enemies but become reluctant allies to save the world so it ends up as a buddy movie. They are played by Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. Alicia Vikander plays the mysterious woman they have to rescue. A running joke is that in every scene, she is perfectly dressed and made up and with a perfect hair do. Her dresses are stunning, by the way. The men too are part of the joke. No matter what they’ve just been through, they are perfectly groomed and wearing neat, spotless clothes. This was part of the joke on the television series.
One thing I would recommend the movie for is as a history lesson. It begins with a brief look at The Cold War from WWII to the present which is 1961 or 1962. Kennedy is President. Today, we think of the Sixties as protests, cute little hippies and flower children, etc. What is forgotten is all that came later, after Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Lyndon Johnson became President and the Vietnam War was suddenly very controversial front page news.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. correctly shows the brief Kennedy Era, not as Camelot but as the Cold War at its most frightening. It’s being forgotten how strong the feeling was that life as we knew it could end in a nuclear holocaust without warning. A movie I want to recommend here for background is Thirteen Days which came out in 2000. It shows the thirteen days of the Cuban Missile Crisis when the world teetered on the brink of catastrophe.
Today all the super hero movies have the theme of saving the world as almost a joke. It’s important to remember that in the days of Man From U.N.C.L.E., it was not a joke but a reality.
So overall, it’s not a great movie but a mildly pleasant action drama with an underlying history lesson. ~~ Marian Powell