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It may be more style over substance – but Guy Ritchie’s spy-adventure hits more than it misses.
Sadly the big miss will be at the worldwide box-office after a tepid opening weekend – it was always going to be a gamble for a movie based on a British sixties TV series to have appeal beyond these shores – that will almost certainly rule out any chance of a sequel.
That’s despite noteworthy individual performances from four of Hollywood’s up-and-coming stars – Henry Cavill (Man of Steel), Armie Hammer (The Social Network), Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) and Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby) – and a slick and glossy coat akin to Ritchie’s recent Sherlock Holmes work.
But this suave and sophisticated exterior – which boasts some nice comedic touches, including a great ‘torture’ chair scene – can’t mask the wafer-thin storyline interior (see Pixels review) that is as simplistic as they come, bar a few elegant twists at the end.
New Superman Cavill and Hammer – who will add this to his list of box-office misfire’s after 2013’s flop The Lone Ranger – take over the famous roles (in British circles at least) of CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin from Robert Vaughan and David McCallum (who were ‘poster boy’ pin-ups on my Mum’s bedroom wall) in the 1964-68 TV series.
Set in the same (at the height of the Cold War) era, 1963 to be exact, the former enemies team-up to try and take out a mysterious organisation attempting to acquire nuclear weapons, which leads to a mysterious East German-based woman Gaby Teller – whose Nazi scientist father with the capabilities of arming a nuke has gone missing – joining them for the ride.
Debicki, as Rome-based socialite-with-a-dark-side Victoria Vinciguerra, and Hugh Grant, who takes on the role of top British MI5 agent Waverley, also contribute to a movie that offers something enigmaticly different, which the filmmakers and cast – particularly Cavill, who shows he can do more than just Superman – deserve a lot of credit for.
Unfortunately the run-of-the-mill plotting doesn’t compliment the film’s positives to make this stand out enough from the pack – even though with nods to the original it’s the kind of movie your Uncle would probably like as much as the younger crowd.