Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Overlooked Movies: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is, of course, a quite recent movie, but I think it qualifies as overlooked because not many people saw it.  Did you?

The movie is based on the TV series that is by now remembered mainly by folks of the geezer persuasion (that would be me).  I really liked the first season of the show, but I thought it went downhill a bit after that.  It was hard to beat the combo of the suave cool of Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughan) and the hot young sex symbol (yes, really) Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum).  The movie can't really capture the vibe that the TV series had back in the old days.

Solo (Henry Cavill) and Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) didn't have a backstory on the TV series, so naturally we have to have yet another origin story movie.  Solo, it seems was a great thief, and to avoid prison after being caught he has to work for the CIA.  Kuryakin is a Russian agent and near superman with a bad temper. They're forced to work together by their bosses to avert (of course) the destruction of the world by nasty Nazi remnants in the Cold War world.  They're helped (and hindered) by Alicia Virkander, who wears the Carnaby Street look very well, indeed.  Mr. Waverley is played by Hugh Grant, who's very good.

There's a lot of action, a bit of wit, and some gorgeous color, but Cavill and Hammer aren't going to make anybody forget Vaughan and McCallum.  The plot is the same old, same old.  The movie was directed by Guy Ritchie, which is enough to turn some people off from the start.

Not me, though.  I found it entertaining and frequently amusing.  If the sequel they set up at the end ever gets made (highly doubtful), I'd watch.

14 comments:

George said...

I was a big fan of THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. back in the Sixties. And, I really like THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E, too! I passed on this movie version, but your review is tempting me to reconsider.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Yes, Guy Ritchie is a big negative for me, but the weak lead actors is bigger.

Like you I miss the old days, but when it comes to the Swingin' Sixties, You Can't Go Home Again.

Jerry House said...

I was also a big U.N.C.L.E. fan. I felt this film would have worked better if they didn't try to shoehorn it into the U.N.C.L.E. framework. THE WILD, WILD WEST, THE LONE RANGER, I SPY, THE AVENGERS (Steed/Peel version), MISSION : IMPOSSIBLE(s), THE SAINT -- all seem to go out of their way to pervert/alter/modernize the source material. and they all fail horribly.

I'm a grumpy old man. Sue me.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I'm with Jerry. I've avoided a lot of them, but I had the misfortune to see the appalling WILD, WILD WEST. Just horrible.

Deb said...

According to Leslie Halliwell, the swinging sixties was a complete construct that never actually existed, so there's that...

What I remember about the tv show was how dreamy David McCullum was as Ilya. We couldn't believe it when his wife left him for Charles Bronson! What woman in her right mind would do that? (Hey, we were pre-teens...we had no clue.) Nowadays, every once in a while when I'm channel-surfing, I'll catch McCullum as "Ducky" on "NCIS" where he's enjoying a late-in-career resurgence.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Guy Ritchie did some good films until he hit it big with Sherlock Holmes. Snatch, Rock n Roller, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. I just found this bland. A lot had to do with the boring leads.
I think a lot of people need to go back and watch the originals. They don't hold up well after 50 years. The Lone Ranger is especially awful.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Nope, never saw it.

Shelly S said...

Man from UNCLE was my favorite TV show and in a way, still is because it was such a big part of my childhood. I had the biggest crush on McCallum and still do. I wrote fanfic for it. I read a lot of MFU fanfic, too, over the years. I had no problems hearing that Guy Ritchie was directing the movie. It couldn't be worse than "The Return of the Man from UNCLE" TV movie of the early-'80s. And I did enjoy some of Ritchie's other movies. I was excited about the movie, I was thrilled with the castings, and I loved the movie. It's everything I wanted from a Man from UNCLE movie and more. My friends who are devout fans of the show also loved the movie. I couldn't wait to own the DVD. I would love a sequel to it, but I doubt that will happen. It's a shame.

Vince said...

FWIW, I loved this movie. Saw it in the theater, bought it on Blu-Ray. It's made with a lightness you don't usually see in big-budget films of this stripe. The clothes are fantastic. And Daniel Pemberton's score is one of the best I've ever heard. Then again, I've never seen the TV show.

Mike Stamm said...

I remember the '60s series fondly, but saw a couple of the old episodes recently and was seriously underwhelmed, hence my lack of interest in the movie. You make it sound like it's worth a look, though; I'll check it out.

Konsumterra said...

lots of women i know described as backwards and felt alienated and said they expect more today - they acknowledged some good things but still mostly disapointed - i havent seen it and im not sure what they mean exactly

Anonymous said...

I have my 1960s Man from U.N.C.L.E. attaché case somewhere around here, but just the case; none of the nifty items that came with it.

John Duke (Who's still waiting for a call to help resolve a dangerous international crisis.)

Scott Cupp said...

I also saw this film in the theater and bought the Blu-Ray. The 60's setting is wonderfully realized. Love the fashions they put the women in. Great fun. Not the original UNCLE but I liked it too.

Lohr McKinstry said...

I don't recall hearing anyone say the word "U.N.C.L.E." in this film. Pictures of the U.N.C.L.E. Gun are shown in the end credits, but no one used it in the film.