The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) Movie Reviews

Friday, June 17, 2016

Movie Reviews

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) Movie Reviews


I am a fan of the original TV show and also a fan of Henry Cavill and Guy Ritchie. I have been looking forward to this movie for quite some time and am pleased to report that it was as good as I had hoped it would be.

I prefer being entertained at the cinema rather than being shocked. I like leaving the theater refreshed rather than depressed. This movie was perfect for me. It was fun and witty. There was no inappropriate language or gratuitous sex (only what you see in the trailer). The only disturbing (very brief) scene helped establish the villains as evil and fanatic. 

This movie pays homage to the decade of my youth and brought back memories of the history and style of the times but will still be enjoyable to the younger audience who are not familiar with said history, style, or TV show.

I think Henry Cavill is a talented actor, and I found his performance excellent. It was his job to establish Napoleon Solo as a suave and lighthearted cad who is nevertheless an intelligent and capable crook turned CIA agent. He got the job done! This movie certainly shows he can play a variety of roles. Armie Hammer is so funny in "Mirror, Mirror" that his performance as a dedicated and austere career spy was a delightful surprise. Hugh Grant and his brand of humor really added to the movie. Alisha and Elizabeth are great in their roles and play them with relish.

I loved the retro spy gadgets. Certainly enough action to satisfy me. Too many funny scenes to name them all or without spoiling. Just go watch the movie and see for yourself. Enjoy!

When I first saw the previews for Guy Ritche's latest film, "The Man from UNCLE" – a remake of the series of the same name – I decided to approach it fresh. So I avoided watching any of the adventures of Robert Vaughn's Napoleon Solo and David McCallum's Ilya Kuryakin.

I mean, to do otherwise just would not be fair, since my exposure to the original is limited to pop culture references. Why catch up to a show from decades ago only to rip apart the new one? Why give myself false nostalgia? 

That said, I cannot tell you whether this is a faithful recreation of the original, a tasteful homage, or perhaps a complete bastardization.

However, I can say that, as a Guy Ritchie action-comedy, it works. The jabs at fictional representations of espionage are delivered with near perfect timing. Even the languishing takes meant to ridicule the tropes, stereotypes and clichés we have all come to see in every action spy thriller do not feel drawn out. All of Ritchie's trademarks are also there, from the diagetic sound that shifts to almost non-diagetic levels as the on screen action becomes a musical montage – a music video if you will – right down to the ubiquitous tongue in cheek, deadpan humour.

While I am sure the more eagle-eyed of viewers could play a game of "spot the anachronism" (that tube frame 4x4 in the previews, for instance), I would actually fault this movie as being too period. They seem to have cherry picked all the things people imagine as from the era. The result is that the clothes are just too chic, the set pieces too on the nose.

Then again, I guess that is the point: You are meant to fall in love with the aesthetics of that period as interpreted by Oliver Scholl's production design, and as captured by John Mathieson's cinematography. The fashion, the accessories... even the cars. Especially the cars! How could any depiction of the glamour of the sixties be complete without one Jaguar E Type? Also, watch out for the cameo of a $38 million Ferrari. 

Even with the attention to detail "Mad Men" put into shattering any preconceived notions of the so-called swinging sixties, as well as CNN's "The Sixties" television documentary series' unflinching look at the social turmoil of those times, somehow I still wish I could have lived back then.

Or at least escape into the movie universe they have created.

Because in our world where terrorist groups are committing heinous acts of barbarity that would put any of UNCLE's supervillain enemies to shame, where spy thrillers like "Homeland" had to up the ante because reality is scarier than the fictional world they have created, where the James Bond 007 franchise lost its playfulness long ago and just keeps getting grittier and grittier, and where Donald Trump is the most popular US republican presidential aspirant, the Cold War and its Mutually Assured Destruction definitely seem worth pining for. I mean what is the mere threat of a few megatons of thermonuclear annihilation compared to the Donald? 

The movie is cast satisfyingly well enough, with Armie Hammer's Ilya Kuryakin projecting a cold lethality that may have been a bit much. Luckily, this is a bickering buddy movie, where Henry Cavill's Napoleon Solo balances things out with borderline insufferable calm smoothness. For something with a bunch of Brits speaking in American accents, I am a bit surprised they toned down Gaby Teller's accent whenever the character speaks English – I'm sure the Swedish Alicia Vikander could lay an affectation of an East Berliner real thick.

In all, "The Man from UNCLE" is an enjoyable comedy and an escapist fare which just happens to be seemingly set in our past. I even rank it as a solid tale of espionage, with the end reminding me of Roger Moore as Bond, yelling to General Gogol, "That's détente comrade. I don't have it. You don't have it."

I went into the movie for my birthday, being a young woman my twin and I were initially attracted by the 2 leading male actors who were captivating & handsome- but is that enough to make a movie watchable to a certain degree? No. But this movie beat my expectations. I had already read some online reviews by critics but to be honest I don't know what movie they had went to see since the reviews were overwhelmingly negative but it couldn't have been 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'. It was a witty, and smart movie where each actor didn't outshine one another. I personally do not trust critics since they tend to like boring movies like 'The Lincoln Lawyer' that put me to sleep. It's almost as if the movie was too witty for them & the quips and snarky comments went over their daft heads and left a sour taste in their mouths.

I recommend this movie to anyone if you liked the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock movies then you will thoroughly enjoy this. My only wish is that it was a little longer but that doesn't detract from the quality of the movie.

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