Far from perfect, Man from U.N.C.L.E still has some entertainment value thanks more for the cast including Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer combined with the direction by Guy Ritchie unleashing the cool factor in droves with the 1960s style, rather than with the story.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Genre(s): Action, Suspense/Thriller
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 116 min. – $44.95 | November 17, 2015
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
TV to film adaptations haven’t always been successful with few exceptions because for every Mission: Impossible or The Fugitive you get The A-Team, George of the Jungle and Inspector Gadget. Going in, I wasn’t sure what to think of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as I’ve never seen the show (though heard of it in passing) as the trailers and TV ads did absolutely nothing and honestly, this adaptation wasn’t half bad with some actual charisma from Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, neither of whom made a statement in their respectable star-making roles (well, failed potential for Hammer on The Lone Ranger).
The movie is set in the 1960s with the Cold War between the United States and Russia in full gear where we meet CIA Agent Napoleon Solo (HENRY CAVILL) has entered Berlin to extract Gaby Teller (ALICIA VIKANDER) as she is the daughter of Udo Teller, a nuclear scientist once working for the Nazis before turning good for the U.S.
Set out to stop Solo is KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (ARMIE HAMMER) and the pair duel it out from a distance utilizing their pin-point skills though Solo and Teller manage to escape. Solo reports to his immediate superior named Sanders (JARED HARRIS) revealing that they need Teller for her influence to get close to her uncle whose shipping company is run by Nazi sympathizers Alexander (LUCA CALVANI) and Victoria Vinciguerra (ELIZABETH DEBICKI) who intend on using Udo’s knowledge to build a nuclear weapon for their own nefarious uses.
Now these three must work together, find Teller’s father, and thwart the plans of Victoria and others from acquiring a nuclear weapon while also learning to deal with their own differences in tactics and personalities.
I actually thought Man from U.N.C.L.E. wasn’t a half bad in part thanks to the performances by Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer with the former showing he has an amazing amount of charisma and has the makings for a consistent leading man and a career outside of playing Superman (though there were times he reminded me of Christopher Reeve) and Hammer for his part, with so little to go on as he’s more brute than charm, works well opposite Cavill. Meanwhile, Alicia Vikander continues her ascent to stardom following Ex Machina and has some good scenes with Cavill and especially Hammer.
The supporting cast is also well done in spite of having not much to do from Jared Harris as Solo’s handler to Hugh Grant who plays a pivotal role which I won’t reveal since it is a qusi-twist, but it’s nice seeing him again.
The film was adapted from the 1964-68 series by Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram and helmed by Ritchie who seemed to channel Steven Soderbergh so much, in combination with Daniel Pemberton’s (Steve Jobs) score, I half expected to see George Clooney and Brad Pitt pop up. Still, it’s nicely directed with interesting shots, split-screens and the action was well coordinated.
It is unfortunate that is made a paltry $105 million worldwide off of a $75 million which means the planned franchise is more or less dead in spite of putting together a nice core cast that would’ve been fun to see in a sequel.
All in all, this was an entertaining flick as a Saturday night rental or Netflix stream. No, it’s nothing amazing nor does it break new ground in the spy genre, but there’s enough there to make it a fun time to fill two hours.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.75/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy and a standard DVD Copy.
Spy Vision: Recreating 60’s Cool (8:34; HD) – This looks at the style director Guy Ritchie went for, from the sets to wardrobe, the film and includes interviews with Ritchie, producers, cast members (Cavill, Vikander, Hammer, Grant) and others.
A Higher Class of Hero (7:13; HD) is a featurette on the fight sequences and car chases.
Metisse Motorcycles: Proper-And Very British (4:49; HD) is a profile on the bike Kuryakin rides during the chase sequence at the end and a tour of factory that builds it.
The Guys from U.N.C.L.E. (4:57; HD) looks at the casting of both Cavill and Hammer in their respective roles; it’s another thing EPK-like featurette.
A Man of Extraordinary Talents (3:16; HD) checks out the many talents of Guy Ritchie including being a master chess player and his loose vibe on set.
U.N.C.L.E.: On-Set Spy (5:16; HD) is split into four parts looking at a variety of scenes from the underwater sequence to the bedroom fight.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Man from U.N.C.L.E. swings onto Blu-ray presented in its original theatrical 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a beautiful 1080p high-definition transfer. Detail was sharp and nicely defined. There were no instances of aliasing, pixilation or artifacts making for a clean transfer while colors are bright and bring a nice pop to the screen. Not sure if its reference quality or anything but it’s still impressive.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
As with other recent Warner releases, this comes with the now relatively new Dolby Atmos track (decodes to TrueHD 7.1 for receivers unable to handle it) and like the others, this sounds amazing with crisp and clear audio from dialogue on the lower end to the action-oriented scenes with gunfire, car chases and explosions on the upper end. It’s a very dynamic track and excellent depth throughout. Also, the LFE channel does turn on but is evenly keeled, rumbling at the right times but not overbearing.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, far from perfect, Man from U.N.C.L.E still has some entertainment value thanks more for the cast including Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer combined with the direction by Guy Ritchie unleashing the cool factor in droves with the 1960s style, rather than with the story. The Blu-ray released by Warner offers so-so bonus material but solid video and audio transfers.
Brian Oliver a.k.a. The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.