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‘Atomic Blonde’ Looks Great But Pulls Too Many Punches

atomic

Atomic Blonde was directed by David Leitch, the stunt mastermind and co-director of the action-favorite, John Wick. Based on the graphic novel The Coldest City, this is a spy film with all the right moves, but does that hold true for the story itself?

Go on…‘Atomic Blonde’ Looks Great But Pulls Too Many Punches

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‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ Review — I Spy a Franchise

man from uncle review

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was directed by Guy Ritchie and stars Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, and Hugh Grant. It’s an adaptation of the TV series of the same name, and like the show, it’s a spy thriller set in the 1960s.

The movie is about two special agents, an American and a Russian played by Cavill and Hammer, who have to team up on a mission to stop a criminal organization from starting a nuclear arms race (the plot is only slightly less generic than I’m making it sound). They seek help from the daughter of someone within this criminal organization, who is played by Vikander.

Warner Brothers has been wanting to make this movie for over a decade now, but it’s somehow coming out during what I like to call “Spy Summer.” We’ve gotten a lot of pretty decent spy movies over the last few months, so how does this one stack up?

Well, one of the first things you’ll notice in U.N.C.L.E. is that the stunts are pretty well done. Cavill and Hammer did a lot of their own stunts, especially Hammer. At one point, his stunt double said in an interview that he hardly had to do anything (look out, Tom Cruise).

man from uncle review

In fact, Tom Cruise was one of the lead actors first snagged for the role of Napoleon Solo, the American agent. Henry Cavill (who initially sought the role of Hammer’s character) eventually got the part, so I think a lot of people must be wondering how the “man of steel” fares in this.

Fortunately, I can say that both Cavill and Hammer have great performances in this movie. Their characters are well written, their banter has that signature Guy Ritchie style to it, and you can more or less believe that they exist in the 60s. My only complaint is that physically, they don’t seem to match up since Hammer is meant to be a brute, while Cavill is more of the sleuth. But when you look at them side by side…well, it’s just a nitpick.

Speaking of nitpicks, I didn’t find as many as I normally do in spy movies like this, and that’s a testament to the fast pace and good writing, even if there are a few too many cliches in the overall story. I can’t say I was very invested in what was going on in this movie, and at times I felt a little lost. The movie is shot with a lot of shaky cam during its action sequences, and the script kept reusing an Ocean’s 11 plot device that felt useless by the third and fourth time.

man from uncle review

That said, the movie had a lot of memorable moments, rivaling Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (the other spy movie that came out this month). A drunken Alicia Vikander tackling Armie Hammer’s daunting character out of nowhere was great to watch, and a certain scene involving a sandwich was the film’s best moment.

Overall, U.N.C.L.E. is an entertaining B movie with some neat surprises and good performances, though a little bogged down by a generic plot. What truly saves it from getting into mediocre territory is the soundtrack, which is currently my fourth favorite of the year (behind Mad Max: Fury RoadInside Out, and Paddington).

Grade:  B- 

If you like spy movies, throwbacks to good spy movies, the 1960s, and Guy Ritchie, then this is a must-watch.

Extra Credits: 

  • Again, I’ve never seen the original TV series, so I’m curious to know how U.N.C.L.E. stacks up. Let me know in the comments if you’ve seen both and can share your thoughts.
  • No after credits stinger, but it’s definitely setting up for a sequel (assuming it makes enough money).
  • Elizabeth Debicki is my next pick for playing Audrey Hepburn in any kind of biopic.
  • So Superman, the Lone Ranger, and an Artificial Intelligence try to stop a nuclear war…

man from uncle review

If you want to hear more thoughts on this movie before checking it out, listen to our upcoming podcast episode of Now Conspiring, where we’ll do a roundtable review with multiple critics. The episode will be ready for download this Sunday at 9:00 am (Pacific).

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Podcast: Insidious 3, Spy, Movie News This Week

insidious 3 spy

Spy has been getting all of the praise lately, so what does Team Conspiring think about its success? Get ready for some heat, Paul Feig style.

We cover tons of movie news this week (including some comic news), along with some coverage of some recent trailers that just dropped. We also read your comments from the last episode and bring up this week’s topic of discussion.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is a movie that you hate, even though everyone else loves it?

Enjoy the show! Let us know your answers to this week’s question in the comments. Or just hit us up on Twitter! We’re @NowConspiring. And don’t forget to rate/subscribe us on iTunes or the Stitcher app if you feel like it.

Our Song of the Week is “Beat of My Drum” by up-and-coming band, Powers.

You also heard these songs in this week’s episode:

“Wish You Were Here” – Lee Fields and The Expressions

“Don’t Carry It All” – The Decembrists

‘Spy’ Review — Return of the Bridesmaids

spy review

I normally do Mini Reviews on this site, but I have a lot to say about Paul Feig’s latest genre experiment. I’ll do my best to keep this as short as possible, though.

Spy is an R rated action spy movie spoof starring Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, and Rose Byrne. It was directed and written by Paul Feig, who is best known for Bridesmaids and The Heat, which are two other films featuring Melissa McCarthy, and the former even includes Rose Byrne.

The movie centers around Susan Cooper (McCarthy), a timid CIA analyst who has to go undercover and on the field for the first time in order to stop a nuclear arms deal in a few long chase scenes around Europe.

The trailers would have you think this is Paul Blart Female Cop — an overweight, unassuming hero facing off against overwhelming danger. But really, this movie is a raunchy action comedy akin to this year’s Kingsman: The Secret Service. Unfortunately, I don’t consider Spy to be anywhere near as funny or witty as Kingsman. 

spy review

But I think I’ll be in the minority for that opinion. I also didn’t find the 21 Jumpstreet movie or its sequel to be that great, despite overwhelming praise from critics and fans alike. For the same reason, I think a lot of people will cling to Statham’s bizarre jokes and the gag scenes that earn Spy‘s R rating.

I actually found the trailer to be hilarious, and I was very much looking forward to Spy. But when I saw the movie itself, for whatever reason, the comedic timing just fell completely flat. It was nonexistent, even during scenes I had laughed out loud at during the trailer. The jokes themselves are mostly well-written, but something about the direction kept them from striking a chord with me.

There’s nothing worse than watching a comedy that you don’t find funny. When you strip away the comedy from Spy, you’re left with a boring plot that spoofs dozens of spy movies you’ve already seen before (so younger viewers will certainly find a lot to love).

Feig pulls of just one action scene that is both enjoyable and memorable. It perfectly utilizes the freedom they got with the R rating to show something interesting and novel. Every other action scene was pretty one-note, the film’s two big twists were pretty obvious (but not terribly so), and only scene actually made me cringe.

That’s the thing about Spy. It’s not a terrible movie. Most of it is pretty average, and at times, it surprises you with something entertaining. But if you’re like me, you’ll find Spy to be pretty boring and devoid of humor. If you do check this one out, I hope that’s not the case.

Grade: C. 

It’s not bad enough for me to warn audiences away from this movie. Read some other reviews and watch the trailers to see if the comedy will resonate with you. If so, then you might enjoy this movie a lot. But if you’re not the least bit interested, you might find Spy to be shrug-worthy.

Spy is now playing in theaters everywhere.

 

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