Sunday, August 23, 2015

Movie Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

This movie is good, light entertainment.  If you've seen the trailer, if you've watched any of the original series episodes, you know about what to expect.  This installment is very much an origins story, with the eponymous agency being formed up at the end.

Many professional reviewers have criticized this movie as having more style over substance, and I am inclined to agree.  There were parts of the plot that barely made sense.  Still, it was enjoyable and the very watchable style mostly glossed over the lack of substance.  This is not a heavy hit relative to the original series, which sometimes barely made sense itself.  (e.g.: Project Earth-Save was pretty nonsensical)  I expected a little better writing in a feature-length film however, but then this is 2015.

No, the parts that bothered me were the main characters' backstories.  Napoleon Solo is remade as a WWII Army sergeant turned jewel thief, while Illya Kuryakin is turned into a barely-in-control psycho.  In the original series, Solo is all Mr. Smooth Ivy League, while Kuryakin played as the brooding intellectual.  It is hard to see how we get from this movie's backstory to the characters from the series.  So that part absolutely did not work.

Despite these flaws, it was a lot of fun to watch.  Alicia Vikander pulled off her part as the young woman caught in the middle of all this very well, and Hugh Grant produced the correct level of dry wit in his part as spy-boss Waverly.  Elizabeth Debicki was perfect as The Villainess, all double-crossed hiss and slyness.

Will there be a sequel?  Obviously the ending of the movie sets things up for one, but I think that it will be a box office driven decision.  And at the box office... well the jury's still out on that one.  Would I go to see the sequel?  Probably.

Bottom line: 2.75 stars out of 4.  I'll enjoy watching this one again on video sometime next winter.

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