Monday, August 24, 2015

Movie Monday: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Spoilers)

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a British-American action comedy spy film based off the television series that ran from 1964 to 1968 starring Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, and Hugh Grant.

The film takes place in the 1960's during the Cold War bringing together a secret agent from America, and Russia, with the assistance of a daughter of a Nazi scientist, to stop a nuclear bomb being made by a team led by a wealthy couple in Rome.

  Is it just me, or does he look even more like Clark Kent here?

First up we have Napoleon Solo, a smooth talking ladies man who ended up working for the CIA after he was caught stealing in the military and served prison time. He's a laid back personality who never loses his cool even in the most intense of situations.

I can't really compare his performance to Robert Vaughn since I never seen the show, but looking at it based on its own merits, he does a good job. Had me laughing at various points through the movie, and plays off of the more emotional Illya Kuryakin character very well. 

  He's dead. No big surprise.

Speaking of Illya Kuryakin, here he is in all his KGB glory. Illya is the polar opposite of Napoleon's cool demeanor by having deep personal issues that causes him to erupt in a blind rage at any unlucky sap who's stupid enough to piss him off. This leads to some pretty comical situations when he's beating on people who deserve it, but at the samae time you feel for him.

Because of this, he's just a more interesting character than Napoleon. Napoleon is basically James Bond Lite while Illya feels more like his own thing. If the same was true for the original TV show, then I understand why Illya was such a breakout character. Hammer has good on- screen chemistry with Vikander as well, even though they fall prey to the 'almost kiss but get interrupted' cliche. 

  That dress is so you.

Meet Gaby Teller. Gaby is a mechanic in Germany who gets smuggled out of the country by Napoleon, and brought in to assist Solo and Kuryakin's mission disguised as the latter wife. Joke's on them because all this time she was working as a British spy and has to sell them out just to get close enough to her father to complete her mission. I can see why they call her Gaby.

She's irritable with a speck of sass. Not that you blame her since right out of the gate she's put in one irritable situation after another. In one scene the woman straight up wrestles with the Russian in a hotel room. I mean, Gaby isn't unlikeable or anything, but there really isn't much to talk about.

  What do you plan to do with that?

Victoria Vinciguerra is our resident villainess for the movie, and it's refreshing to see a woman in this role for a change. Maybe there were others this year that had one, however not in the films I've seen. Victoria plays up the sex appeal (not in an objectifying way) to get her way and comes across as a rather intelligent villain until the very end where her rant about how dangerous she is causes her untimely death. At least this movie uses it for comedic effect.

She has a lot more personality than her husband who can more or less be summed up as the muscle. While I enjoy her presence, I can't say they're doing anything new here. Rich, powerful woman who uses sex to get what she wants? Been done. The execution is at the very least entertaining to watch, and in a world void of originality some times that's the best you can hope for.

I would take this time to talk about Hugh Grant's character, except for the fact he has little screen time, so there's not much to say. He's British. That's all you really need to know.

  This is why stealth games aren't co-op.

Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a spy movie first, and an action flick second. Oh, there are some fun action sequences, don't get me wrong, they're just not the prime focus. Take these characters apart and as individuals they're not much to look at. Stick them together and you have a fun team to watch, which naturally is the whole point of the movie since it's about the formation of U.N.C.L.E.

Stand out comedic moments include Solo in a car listening to music and getting ready to eat in constrast to Kuryakin being chased around in a boat, and the two going over what to do with their prisoner while he's being fried by his own torture device. On the other side of thing, that scene I was talking about earlier with the wrestling? They cut to the outside to make it sound like aggressive sex. I admit, I laughed, but I can see why someone else wouldn't because I have seen that done before. Comedy is highly subjective, so it's impossible to really say what will make you laugh, and what won't.

Throughout the film there's this style they do that I can best describe as the instant reply. It's where they mute out the audio in a scene, and then come back to it later to fill in the blanks. At times it can be really clever, especially in the climax of the movie. Other times? You're left wondering whether or not the movie theater lost sound. It's very hit and miss, but brownie points for at least trying to do something different to stand out. I don't know if this is something the show did or not. 

  I think I've seen Hogan wear Gaby's sun glasses before.

While not a perfect movie, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a refreshing take on the genre when compared to other films that came out this year, and proves to be an enjoyable time at the theater. If you want something different, but not too jarring to what you're used, Man from U.N.C.L.E. may be what you're looking for.

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