Posted by: greercn | August 19, 2015

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

They lost THRUSH. THRUSH was the evil spy network that tried to destroy U.N.C.L.E. Boy, do I miss THRUSH.

As the biggest fan of the old series that ran in the 1960s, this was the blockbuster I wanted to see the most, this summer.

It’s a good movie, but it has flaws. As a prequel – yawn – it just doesn’t fit with the old characters.

Henry Cavill’s Napoleon Solo misses the suave and wry charm of Robert Vaughn’s acting, but has brawn and a pout of great verve.

Armie Hammer’s Illya Kuryakin lacks David McCallum’s beatnik posture and dress. Hammer seems to be on an anger management binge, while McCallum was a love god for most of my teenage friends. I can’t see that fate in Armie’s future.

Unusually – I was always contrary – my favourite was Mr Waverly, played by Leo G. Carroll. Hugh Grant is wonderful. I missed Leo, but only for a second. Hugh Grant is getting better and better with every picture he makes.

Alicia Vikander is the obligatory female sidekick and she sure can kick. She wears the fashion well, too. Elizabeth Debicki is a good bad gal.

Huge plaudits should go to the set and costume designers as even the phones look real, given we are in the 1960s.

And the plot is okay. You may find the idea that an American and a Russian spy must unite to save the world from nuclear doom plot to be just a tad familiar. On the other hand, it’s a good premise.

Excellent chases, decent explosions and great escapes are all present and correct.

And the 120-minute running time only has a few saggy bits.

The problem is that director Guy Ritchie and his team of writers lack subtlety. Too much that was winsome and adorable, in the original, is just plain bashed, here.

I shudder to think what they might make of the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. I am amusing myself thinking of who might play her. And in these modern times, she’ll probably be The Woman, which will be more correct but a lot less fun.

Everyone at the very-packed Stratford East Picturehouse enjoyed it, as did I and my Very Intelligent Friend.

Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic and wonderful theme in barely used here, which is a real pity.

So, big kudos on style. May the inevitable sequel have a bit more substance.


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