The Man From UNCLE review – lifeless revival

The Man From U N C L E

If you were a child in the 60s, but born just too late to enjoy that decade’s major pop-culture phenomena when they were fresh, chances are that your biggest thrills were cheap and cheerful derivatives – the Monkees instead of the Beatles, and instead of Bond, American TV show The Man From UNCLE.

Guy Ritchie’s attempt to revive cold war-defying duo Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin is a lifelessly knowing affair, with its two uncharismatic lead hunks failing to catch the wry rapport of originals Robert Vaughn and David McCallum. Dressed up to the nines like an expensively retro aftershave ad, Ritchie’s film is laboriously insouciant – and no amount of funky drumming and lounge Braziliana on the soundtrack can make it spark.

Most enjoyable here is Elizabeth Debicki (from Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby), preposterously silky as an international evildoer. Hugh Grant, keeping a low profile as spymaster Mr Waverly can’t match the TV show’s incomparable Leo G Carroll, but he’s AVUNCULAR enough.

Powered by article was written by Jonathan Romney, for The Observer on Sunday 16th August 2015 08.00 Europe/London

Watch the trailer for The man from UNCLE © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010