Movie Review: “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”
Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Grant
Hollywood hasn’t been shy about its love for sequels, reboots and remakes this summer, but as far as big screen adaptations of mildly popular television shows go, you could do a lot worse than “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” In fact, though director Guy Ritchie has admitted that he wasn’t overly familiar with the 1960s TV series before signing on to the project, it’s the ideal property for a filmmaker like Ritchie to tackle, because it allows him to cherry-pick the show’s best bits and put his own spin on the material without worrying about stepping on too many toes. That approach worked well for his “Sherlock Holmes” movies, and it’s equally as effective with “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” an entertaining homage to retro spy films that makes up for what it lacks in substance with plenty of laughs and undeniable style.
In 1963, during the height of the Cold War, the United States and Russia agree to temporarily put aside their differences and combine forces when they learn that a secret criminal organization has kidnapped former Nazi scientist Udo Teller to build an atom bomb. The CIA and KGB assign their top agents – American thief-turned-spy Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and hard-nosed Russian Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) – to infiltrate the organization led by the beautiful but deadly Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki) in order to rescue Dr. Teller and prevent a global disaster. Assisting Napoleon and Illya on their mission is Teller’s daughter, Gabby (Alicia Vikander), a plucky mechanic whose uncle is their only lead in locating the bomb.
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Movie Review: “The Lone Ranger”
Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, James Badge Dale, Barry Pepper
It’s no secret that the key to the success of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies was Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, so you can understand why Disney would be so eager to build another potential franchise around the actor. They’ve even brought back director Gore Verbinski and screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio in an attempt to recapture the success of those films. As a result, some people might be tempted to describe “The Lone Ranger” as “Pirates of the Caribbean” meets the Wild West, and quite frankly, they wouldn’t be too far off. Disney’s big screen adaptation of the classic radio serial is like the “Pirates” movies in many ways, and unfortunately, that includes the bad along with the good.
The year is 1869 and the first transcontinental railroad is nearing completion. As Texas-born attorney John Reid (Armie Hammer) travels home from college, his train is attacked by a band of outlaws who have come to break their cannibalistic leader Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) out of custody. John joins his brother Dan (James Badge Dale) and the rest of the Texas Rangers to track him down, only to be ambushed by Cavendish in the desert and slaughtered like cattle. Left for dead, John is nursed back to life by a Comanche Indian named Tonto (Depp) – whose life he saved earlier on the train – at the behest of a white spirit horse. Both men want to bring Cavendish to justice for their own reasons, so they decide to team up, with John donning a mask to hide his identity. But on their quest to take down Cavendish and his men, the pair uncovers a larger plot involving railroad tycoon Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson) that could spell trouble for the native tribes.
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