Tag Archives: Armie hammer

‘Rebecca’ Review

Someone needs to get to the suits in Hollywood and tell them that not every classic film needs to be reimagined.

“Rebecca” is based on the 1938 book of the same name, which was famously adapted by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940 (his only Best Picture winner). The plot follows a newlywed couple (Armie Hammer and Lily James) that is haunted by the memory of the husband’s deceased wife. Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Goodman-Hill, Keeley Hawes, Sam Riley, and Ann Dowd also star, while Ben Wheatley directs.

Remaking classic films is nothing new, Hollywood has been doing it for years (such as “True Grit,” “Ben-Hur,” and “A Star Is Born,” which gets dusted off every 20 years), and it’s very rare they are actually worth revisiting (“A Star Is Born” is ironically probably one of the few films that perfectly balances paying homage to the source material while also adding its own style). While “Rebecca” is not a straight-up remake of Hitchcock’s film, it is based on the same book and thus follows the same beats, and while I have not seen the 1940 original, this 2020 version simply never justifies its own existence.

Armie Hammer has had an odd but quietly successful career thus far, coming onto the scene in 2010 with his dual performance in “The Social Network.” After being the titular role in the notorious box office bomb “Lone Ranger,” he has done small supporting roles in things like “Sorry to Bother You” and earned award talks for “Call Me by Your Name.” An American, Hammer makes attempts to carry a British accent here (the film is set in Europe and the rest of the cast is naturally British) and about halfway through the runtime decides to just drop it (seriously, there are lines of dialogue that are flat-out Californian dialect). He tries to have a sense of mystery about his character, but it never really comes off much better than what “Fifty Shades of Grey” tried to do with Christian Grey.

Lily James is always dorky and charming, and here she is fine. She is supposed to go through this gradual change as the film progresses, with one character saying she has lost her innocence, but that is never organically portrayed on-screen. She also suddenly becomes an expert in law and medical science and anything else the plot needs from her, and it’s just lazy writing.

From a production standpoint, the film looks great. Seriously, the cinematography by Laurie Rose, especially in the early scenes set in the French Riviera, are gorgeous and lit perfectly. The attention to detail by the production design crew is to be commended, and it at least keeps you mildly intrigued when the plot consistently does not.

“Rebecca” is luscious on the outside but hallow on the inside, and despite being an easily-accessible Netflix movie is not worth a watch. There is no true conflict until the final 20 minutes, and there is simply nothing here that we have not seen done before, and done better. In the film, Hammer never wants to talk about his wife Rebecca, and I don’t want to ever think about her again, either.

Critics Rating: 4/10

‘Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ Convoluted But Cool

imageSomewhere between the style of “Mission: Impossible” and the wit of James Bond lies “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

Based on the ’60s TV show of the same name, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” stars Henry Cavill as CIA agent Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as KBG agent Illya Kuryakin. Against each of their wills, the two must team up to stop an organization from building a nuclear bomb. Guy Richie directs and co-writes as Alicia Vikander and Hugh Grant also star.

This film was originally supposed to come out this past January, but it was pushed back until August. Neither month usually indicates studios having faith in the films that are released during them, so the fact that “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is not a complete train wreck should be a victory within itself. What’s more, is the film is a fun, light-hearted take on the early spy films, with just enough style to overcome its lack of substance.

One of my biggest gripes about Henry Cavill in “Man of Steel” was his American accent. It never felt authentic, as if the British native read “How Americans Talk for Dummies” and just walked on set. In “U.N.C.L.E.” (boy, that is getting annoying to keep typing), Cavill is able to give an almost satirical spin on the classy, suave American secret agents, and it works to his benefit. If you’ve ever watched “Archer” (which if you haven’t, I highly recommend you do), Cavill’s Solo is pretty much a real-life version of the show’s titular character: a smooth-talking womanizer who almost always has a Scotch in hand.

Paired with Cavill is Armie Hammer, using a somewhat awkward Russian accent. I like Armie in most everything he does (we’re on a first name basis because we’re good friends), but I have to wonder the logic behind the casting here. British actors portraying American characters is nothing new (see: this film), but whenever Americans, or most any nationalities, really, use Russian accents it is almost always mocked. Hammer and Cavill have passable chemistry, but they never mesh the way the film wants them to.

Director Guy Richie has always been known for style-over-substance, and he makes no effort to change his ways here. The film looks great and features quick dialogue with editing to match, but those things come at the expense of a wooden, recycled plot. It’s a tale you’ve seen a hundred times: two feuding people must put aside their differences in order to defeat a common enemy. It’s nothing new and the film never tries to throw any twists in the formula.

Most of the action is shot very well, including a fantastically entertaining (if not a bit misleading) opening car chase sequence. Richie knows where to put a camera, and Cavill and Hammer are able to sell their stunts.

How much fun and enjoyment you get out of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” really depends on your ability to overlook simplicity. Cavill gives a charming and humorous performance and the set pieces of 1963 Rome and Berlin provide eye candy, but some of the other performances are over-the-top and the plot is cliché cardboard. In mid-August you can’t expect much from movies, but if you are just looking for a good, simple time at the cinema, then “U.N.C.L.E.’s” your uncle.

Critics Rating: 6/10