Film review of the remake of the 1960’s TV spy series, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer.
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Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast & Credits
Producers: Steve Clark-Hall, John Davis, Jeff Kleeman, Lionel Wigram.
Writers: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram.
Camera: John Mathieson.
Music: Daniel Pemberton.
Sets: Oliver Scholl.
Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Luca Calvani, Sylvester Groth, Hugh Grant, Jared Harris, Christian Berkel, Misha Kuznetsov, David Beckham.
In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Hammer) participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.
Expect a slew of camp and silly sixties TV programmes to appear on the big screen after this largely fun, largely daft adaptation of a series that is now more than 50 years old.
Robert Vaughan and David McCallum became international household names when they played Solo and Kuryakin back in 1964, so it was always going to be a tough act to follow.
Co-writer and director Ritchie and writer/producer Wigram have none the less adopted a completely fresh, brash and sexy approach which still pays homage to the freewheeling nonsense of it’s predecessor.
Ritchie’s products are immediately recognisable for their sub-Tarantino style: the numerous plot-threads frequently intersecting with each other, use of narration, employment of humour to leaven scenes of torture or violence, ‘cool’ vintage music playing on the soundtrack.
He brings all of these the fore here but utilises them in a way that deliberately jars with the delirious fun and outrageously homoerotic dialogue – it’s like being on a canary yellow runaway train with Austin Powers’ ‘Fem Bots’ for stewardesses, a gay driver and added explosions.
Of that dialogue, it goes below the belt almost straight away as CIA lead Harris takes a leak in a public lavatory and tells Cavill: “What I’m going to feed you Mr Solo you will have to swallow and it will taste bitter”.
People, it’s an eye popping conversation opener but not recommended for repeating to those who might be interested in a review of the film. You may want to plump for the easier giggles between the lead characters: “I’ll take top. I’m bottom” and “He bugged me, I bugged him”.
(Ho ho ho – thank heavens we now live in an era where homosexuality is acceptable for such cheap laughs and doesn’t get one arrested in real life).
In the main though this is all in keeping with the flippant ‘Carry On Bond’ feel to the film, where an immediate sequence of high adrenaline action with a car chase through Germany is then abruptly slowed down for an extended shopping trip in which the leads best each other with their knowledge of women’s accessories.
Cavill is as slick and well groomed as Vaughan ever was, with just a hint of that Superman physique beneath the crisp suits. But even his biggest of fans would admit that his piss-take, Roger Moore-American accent quickly grates. Hammer is better value in the round as his strapping, humour-less sidekick and they spar off each other comfortably, which is fortunate as the whole thing is set up for further instalments.
The least said of Grant as an out of place British securities operative the better (Four Weddings and a Nuclear Disarmament anyone? He really is in the wrong film). Vikander is on screen a lot but has precious little to do as the good girl so in the lady stakes Debicki, as the villain, trowels on the evil with glee.
For footie fans, Ritchie’s pal Beckham has a brief, but not silent, cameo as a projectionist.