So here we have a British director reviving an American Cold War show that was the small-screen answer to Bond.

In this version playing the leading American is an Englishman (Cavill); his Russian rival is played by an American (Hammer); the German love interest is Swedish (Vikander); the Italian villainess is Australian (Debicki).

Oh and Hugh Grant? He plays the equivalent of 007's Q - though he still sounds a lot like Hugh Grant.

No, the accents aren't bad. Tough Henry Cavill's Napoleon Solo sure speaks rather slowly for a man so often in a hurry, whether he's zip-lining over the Berlin Wall or off to Italy to stop the Cold War arms race from getting a new entrant.


That's because Solo - originally an invention of Ian Fleming in the original creaky, campy series - is meant to be the suave cool centre of this throwback spy movie. No wonder he's a little leisurely in his language. Sean Connery was like that in his early Bond days too. And Cavill's wardrobe certainly looks like the costume department has raided the 007 props archive.

Set in 1963, it's a movie with plenty of period style, even if its soundtrack would prefer it be 10 years later. And it's a film that offers some inventive action, even if an early car chase scene brings on some Mission: Impossible deja vu.

But while it's nice to look at and occasionally funny without turning into Austin Powers, it's just not that exciting. Yes, the clothes are swish, but the folks in them aren't particularly well-tailored to the roles.

Cavill might be a classically handsome Superman but he's fairly charisma-free here as the crafty CIA guy with the dubious past.

Hammer as Illya Kuryakin, his KGB Russian rival forced into partnership, doesn't leave much of an impression either. And though Vikander as Gaby, their East German link to an evil plot involving a nuke falling into the wrong hands gets to do more than Bond women of the period, she's still mainly there as groovy go-go girl to the lead duo.

And so this becomes a film feels like a cover version of a cover version. One that neither sends up old spy cinema nor adds much to it with its trans-Euro express of a plot. One which involves a missing former Nazi rocket scientist and later, a missing computer disk - which, despite it being 1963, doesn't require a truck to carry - of his blueprints.

Director Guy Ritchie has taken the original show and turned it into a Guy Ritchie movie as he did with Sherlock Holmes. But this doesn't have the spark of a Downey-Law double-act to power it, just retro-style and action scenes. Some of them might leave you mildly shaken, but the movie itself just isn't very stirring.



Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris, Hugh Grant


Guy Ritchie


M (violence)

Running time:

116 mins


A less-than-great-Uncle revival

- TimeOut