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Witty 'Man from U.N.C.L.E.' arrives to the big screen with style
Henry Cavill as Solo and Armie Hammer as Illya in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "The Man From U.N.C.L.E. - photo by Josh Terry
Its a good time to be a fan of spy movies. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is tearing it up at the box office. And in a couple of months, weve got another Bond movie on the way.

But just in case Tom Cruise and Daniel Craig arent your cup of super spy tea, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. arrives this weekend on a wave of style that will make you wish it were 1963 all over again.

Based on the 1960s TV series, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is essentially a buddy spy movie set during the Cold War. Henry Caville plays Napoleon Solo, a military-man-turned-super-thief-turned-womanizing CIA operative with an eye for fashion. Armie Hammer plays Illya, a KGB agent with some serious family issues and a short temper.

The unlikely pair come together when their respective countries get wind of a rogue group of ex-Nazis who are trying to get hold of a nuclear bomb. A German scientist named Udo (Christian Berkel) has developed a technology that will make its holder an automatic world super power, and Solo and Illya are tasked with acquiring it.

Their link is Gaby (Alicia Vikander), Udos daughter. Intel suggests that Gabys Uncle Rudi (Sylvester Groth) may be orchestrating her fathers work on behalf of a power-hungry jet-setter named Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki). Gaby is to pose as Illyas fiance and follow the smooth-talking Solos lead to seize the technology.

All the pieces add up to a suspenseful and sleek thriller that mirrors Rogue Nation without feeling redundant. Both films make generous use of humor and feature a strong female hero. And in both cases, the effect is highly entertaining.

Much of the humor is understated. Caville delivers his lines with a wry stiffness that is great fun even if its nowhere near realistic. Juxtaposed against multiple background sight gags, Cavilles nonchalance delivers some of the films best moments, and his chemistry with the uptight Illya works well.

Like Rebecca Ferguson in Rogue Nation, Vikanders Gaby is far more than a pretty face. Aside from playing a critical role in the plot, Gabys toughness and stubbornness are a great foil for Cavilles fit and finish and Hammers awkward brutality.

The three make a fun team, which should be good news to any studio executives hoping for a franchise.

For much of the film, director Guy Ritchie tempers the heavy style hes employed in films like Snatch and Robert Downey Jr.s Sherlock Holmes movies. It isnt until the films third act that a strong tone change and some split-screen moments take The Man from U.N.C.L.E. down a more bombastic path. It makes things a bit uneven, but the wounds arent critical.

One of the biggest reasons the witty writing and sharp acting works is due to the world Ritchie has created. Set in 1963, before President John F. Kennedys assassination, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is peppered with style cues like classic sports cars and stylish wardrobe, not to mention a fantastic soundtrack packed with original compositions and period pieces from artists such as Roberta Flack and Solomon Burke.

Theres a lot to like here, and the films ending suggests there may be more to come.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is rated PG-13 for sequences of action violence, profanity and some sexual content, including silhouetted nudity.