Man From U.N.C.L.E.(WB, 2015) – Director: Guy
Ritchie. Writers: Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram (s/p). Jeff Kleeman,
Guy Ritchie, David C. Wilson, & Lionel Wigram (story). Based on
the Television Series by Sam Rolfe. Cast: Henry Cavill, Arnie Hammer,
Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Luca Calvani, Sylvester Groth,
Hugh Grant, Jared Harris, Christian Berkel, Misha Kuznetsov, Guy
Williams, Marianna Di Martino, Julian Michael Deuster, Andrea
Cagliesi, & Riccardo Calvanese. Color, PG-13, 116 minutes.
I was in grade school, recess was often spent “playing” TV shows.
We’d run out on the playground and announce the name of the show we
were going to play, then we’d shout out the name of the character
we were going to play like we were calling “shotgun” on a road
Man From U.N.C.L.E. was a TV show at the time and everyone wanted
to play Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) because his name was fun to
say, and because he was cool (he was a Russian). Napoleon Solo
(Robert Vaughn) was also pretty cool and he was the other main
character. They worked together for the United Network Command of Law
and Enforcement, which was pretty amazing in itself, since the United
States was in the middle of the Cold War with Russia.
were spies and spies were hot, mainly because of James Bond. We
played James Bond, too, and we had a whole bunch of double-0 spies on
the playground. The trouble was, we were all too young to understand
what all this spy business was about. Our whole “Man from
U.N.C.L.E.” play consisted of a couple of us running around
introducing ourselves to “bad guys,” then either trying to beat
them up or shooting them.
back in the early 60s, they let us bring play guns to school. School
administrators and parents alike would absolutely lose their minds if
that happened today. But back then, no one broke into schools and
shot them up and there were no such thing as gangs in rural
west-central Illinois. The only thing we had to worry about,
according to my dad, were the “Damn Commies.” If a Damn Commie
broke into our school, we’d be sure to recognize him because ...
well, because he was a damn commie!!! I’m sure that he would have
been accommodating enough to wear a t-shirt or something that said
“Damn Commie” on it for our benefit.
in those innocent days, toy manufacturers recognized the value of TV
and movie tie-ins. There was a boatload of Man From U.N.C.L.E.
toys including cameras that turned into guns, pens with invisible or
disappearing ink, and briefcases filled with guns and other weaponry
that might be needed to fend off Damn Commies. My briefcase, which I
begged Santa to bring, could actually fire white bullet-shaped
projectiles without even opening the case. It was cool! No one in my
family could figure out how to reload those projectiles to get them
to fire again, but it was cool while it lasted. I’m sure that my
Man From U.N.C.L.E. briefcase lies in repose next to many of
my other childhood toys, including a small fortune in comic books and
baseball cards, in a landfill somewhere around my hometown.
We’ve got a movie to get to. I was anxious to see the newest
version of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. when I heard it
was being made into a motion picture. Then I heard that Superman
(Cavill) and the Lone Ranger (Hammer) would play Solo and Kuryakin
respectively, and I rolled my eyes. This couldn’t be good.
premise of the movie is that an American CIA operative (Cavill) is
sent to extract a German woman (Vikander) from East Berlin during the
middle of the Cold War. The CIA is interested in her estranged father
who worked for Hitler and the Nazis, and they think they can use her
to draw him out. The KGB wants to keep her on the Communist side of
the Berlin Wall and enlist Ilya to keep Solo from taking her across.
The first 20 minutes or so feature these two trying to kill each
other and displaying some of their formidable skills.
is successful, but then finds himself teamed with Kuryakin to find
the missing scientist. It comes across as a cop-buddy plot with these
two hating, yet respecting, each other. There’s only so far you can
go with that formula before it’s been done before, and this movie
is no exception.
thing that sets this movie apart is the constant plot twists. Those
who insist that a plot be tight and believable might as well stay
home. Those of us who are willing to suspend our disbelief for a
couple hours and will put up with minor inconsistencies will enjoy
the movie. I’ll admit I didn’t understand everything that was
going on, but I managed to follow along closely enough.
movie, like the TV show, is done with the tongue planted in the
cheek, but not so that it makes it a campy movie. Gadgets aren’t
overdone, and the ironic parts will elicit a smile, if not a good
chuckle from the audience.
does a decent job playing Robert Vaughn. He seems to have studied
Vaughn’s portrayal of Solo in the original TV series, and he has it
down pretty well. The character is one who cannot be flustered (at
least outwardly) and comes across as a little cocky. I liked him a
lot better in this role than I did as The Man of Steel.
is very good as Iyla. He maintains a decent Russian accent throughout
and allows his facial expressions to convey a good deal of the story,
which is always a plus for actors with that ability. He was much
better – eons better – than his Lone Ranger character.
else is okay with no special mentions.
movie ends and is prime for a sequel. They don’t even tell you what
U.N.C.L.E. stands for until the closing credits.
hope they do make a sequel. I’d go see it. I enjoyed this one
enough to give it an A-.