Viewed – 08 December 2015 Online rental
It’s not often a movie wows and disappoints in almost equal measure. However this 60s set spy adaptation of the popular TV series of yesteryear did just that. Director Guy Ritchie’s take on the spy genre is rich in an authentic 60s look and feel complete with impeccable editing, cinematography and imagery straight out of a cigarette commercial or a Jean-Luc Godard classic. From the costumes, the cars, the gadgets and even the choices of music, the look of this movie is fantastic. Almost any shot in this could be framed and hung on the wall of a high brow art critic’s home.
However at it’s core is a fairly typical spy yarn that feels fairly dated and straight out of the setting the movie so richly explores … fitting, but a bit lacking ideas we haven’t seen in a ton of Bond movies or said TV show. The bad guys are also rather bland, sadly. Yet Ritchie picks from all his tried and tested directing skills: snappy, clever split-screen moments, some fun action sequences (bar a fairly annoying dune buggy chase) and plenty of well observed humour. Man of Steel’s Henry Cavill steals the show as the swarve and brilliantly named Napoleon Solo; a CIA agent who is forced to team up with a KGB agent (Social Network’s equally likeable Armie Hammer). Their pairing makes for much of the entertainment as the agents squabble, try and out wit one another and help a gorgeous French girl track down her bomb-making father who is working for a couple of terrorists.
Yet with such fun odd-couple banter and movie making flashiness comes a story that twists and double deals and confuses throughout (not helped by a ton of subtitles that again, are presented in a very stylish manner) … leaving this viewer often not entirely sure what was going on. It all gets a lot clearer in the final moments but by then my head was spinning. Seriously, this movie’s style actually distracted me from the plot, the characters and well, everything. Call it style over substance if you like, but this stumbled when it really should have flown. Sort of like a very attractive woman who blinds you from the fact she just lifted your wallet. I admired it on a purely artistic scale, and was well cast mostly, but that doesn’t mean it completely won me over.
Verdict: 3.5 /5