It’s so refreshing these days to see a movie that’s not a sequel or prequel or reboot. That’s probably why I had no idea what this was going in; I’d forgotten I’d seen the trailer and there wasn’t that much hype over this one. So I had no expectations on this one and was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t quite get the title, but Wikipedia was there in the pinch – this was based on a TV show from the 1960s that ran for four seasons… huh. I guess it IS a reboot, nevermind then.
In the early 1960s,CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.
The thing that stands out on this movie is how apt the casting was. Henry Cavill is the perfect gentleman spy. If James Bond weren’t already filled (forever, in my mind, by Daniel Craig) Cavill would be ideal for that role. While he was also a very serviceable Clark Kent, it’s nice to see him in a movie good enough to make use of his talents. Armie Hammer, the other male lead, was also convincing as the KGB operative he had to work with. This film shines when those two are together, they have beautiful chemistry and play very well off each other.
Side note – while the acting was otherwise absolutely solid, we didn’t see either of these boys shirtless so my rating will be a bit lower than it otherwise would have been. Why have such a handsome pair of male leads if you’re not going to show them off a bit? But I digress…. where was I? Actually the acting was great across the board. I loved Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Debicki was wonderful. Plus Alicia Vikander and a handful of memorable supporting actors in smaller roles should not go without mentioning.
An interesting thing was how close this movie came to passing the Bechdel Test. Two female characters? Check. With names? Check. That talk to each other…. check? About something other than a man? Oooh so close. I can’t help thinking it would have been so easy to just add a even a line or two to make it work.
Spy movies were never really my thing, particularly ones focused on US/USSR relations – I remember a time when cold war spy films were done to death. Even so, this was an excellent example of its kind. The main setting, Rome, was lovely. There’s nothing like a lavish hotel or ancient architecture to really set a scene. It didn’t detract, mind you, just a pretty frame for the action. Small spoiler here – while the level of genre savviness was both obvious and put to good use, there were a couple rough patches. Did we need really need to set up the sequel? This movie was good enough to stand on its own, it didn’t need to be an origin story.