Saturday, January 02, 2016

I've Finally Seen: THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

© by Gerald So | | 5:00 A.M.

As a fan of the TV series, I had anticipated an U.N.C.L.E. movie for years, various actors, writers, and directors becoming attached and detached. When the movie premiered in August directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, I wanted to see it, but not so much I'd have gone to a theater alone.

At the family Thanksgiving party, a cousin raved about the movie on video, saying she enjoyed it more than the higher-profile James Bond movie Spectre. Yesterday, my brother mentioned the U.N.C.L.E. movie had come up on his Netflix queue. Not familiar with the TV series, he still enjoyed it, saying it was worth the $14.99 on Blu-ray I'd been thinking of paying, so we watched it together last night.

While not blatantly like the TV series, the movie strikes enough of the same chords that its inspiration is clear. Coming close to Robert Vaughn's playful cadence, Cavill plays the CIA's Napoleon Solo with a flair sadly missing from the current incarnations of Bond and Bourne. Hammer plays the KGB's Ilya Kuryakin not quite as David McCallum did, but with the same sense that his volatility could churn to the surface any moment.

The movie covers their getting to know each other as the United States and Soviet Union team up in pursuit of a missing nuclear scientist. It's really a race which superpower finds them first, and each man has orders to kill the other if necessary to win. Meanwhile, U.N.C.L.E. chief Alexander Waverly (Hugh Grant) has his own agent in place.

I found it a good mix of period tension and low-tech action. I regret that a sequel seems unlikely given its low box office total.

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