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The Man from UNCLE ReviewIf you’re old enough to have been cognizant in the ’60’s, you can probably remember whether you were on Team Illya Kuryakin or Team Napoleon Solo. Now, with the release of The Man From UNCLE, a whole new generation gets to take sides. As for me, although I used to watch the show between the bars of my crib, I was Team Ilya back then and I’m still Ilya now, thanks to the dashing Armie Hammer.

Not that Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) is any slouch as the super slick super spy Napoleon Solo. And Alicia Vikander (who was absolutely mesmerizing in Anna Karenina, A Royal Affair and Ex Machina), as The Girl, is unsurpassed. But the real star of the show is director Guy Ritchie, who brought his own stylish savvy to this homage to the spy shows of the ’60s. With the split screens, the Berlin Wall, the evil Russians and the go-go fashions, you’re taken all the way back. And if you’ve never been there before, you’re in for a fabulous journey to a time when luxury speed boats were made of wood, telephones were dialed and dark glasses were huge.

We first find our favorite characters right smack in the middle of the Cold War, on the East German side of the Wall, with Solo trying to rescue Gaby (Vikander) so she can help find her nuclear physicist father. Meanwhile, a giant Russian agent (Hammer) tries to thwart their every move. His rivalry and banter with Solo, whether he’s arguing designer fashions in a haute boutique or ripping cars apart with his bare hands and flinging motorcycles, never gets old. The action takes these three strange bedfellows to beautiful Italy and European parts beyond, while Hugh Grant, as Waverly, attempts to keep up and guide them.

Look for composer Daniel Pemberton to make a big splash with his period score — rather than rely on the kitchy, overused music of the ’60’s, he utilizes chic period instrumental themes that evoke the time and feeling without cramming memories down your throat. The score has just the right amount of tasty subtlety, and will surely sell a soundtrack or two. I know I want one.

There’s the perfect set up for a sequel if this first one is a hit, but I’m not so sure it’s going to wield a lot of weight at the box office. Such a shame. There’s plenty of room for more sixties super spies at the box office, in addition to Austin Powers.

Rated PG-13

2 Hour 56 Minutes

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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