I do not believe I know the original, but Guy Ritchie appears to have attempted to make a mix between old and new. The original film is from 1964. The present title seems to play around that time when there was still a wall in Berlin and when Americans still argued with Russia.
The film begins with a very hip chasing scene in which the main characters meet. We have the American CIA agent Solo and his Russian counterpart Illya. Solo is a bit of a James Bond type character with English manners, good taste and an eye for women. Illya is the more funny character because the Russian has to try to work ‘the American’ rather than ‘the Russian way’.
There is not too much of a story. A bit of a James Bond like story with a bad guy, or actually a bad girl, with big plans that have to be prevented by the leading characters. This is brought with subtle humour, witty one-liners and amusing action. However the result is amusing, “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” does not raise the level of mere amusement. Therefor it is a film to see when you feel like watching something light.
Like I said, I do not think I know the original film, but since only in the very last scene the title is mentioned, Ritchie’s film could be meant as some sort of prequel.