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The Man From U.N.C.L.E. - Blu-ray Review

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The Man From U.N.C.L.E. - Movie Review

3 stars

While uneven to a fault, Guy Ritchie’s spin on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., originally an American television series broadcast on NBC from 1964-1968, is easily the best thing Warner Bros has put out this summer. Maybe that’s not saying much this year but, once the picture puts its best foot forward with an exciting finale, you’ll probably do like I did and forgive it of its weaker aspects.

Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is a most experienced spy. He knows it, too. His current assignment is to find the whereabouts of a missing German scientist who is working with a group of neo-fascist Italians to warm up the Cold War. His only lead is the scientist’s daughter, auto mechanic Gaby (Alicia Vikander). She’s a popular contact as Russian agent Ilya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) is also wanting to speak with her. Let the butting of heads begin…

After a dissecting chase sequence in which all three leads demonstrate their specific skill set for the espionage-themed adventure they are about to embark upon, Solo is pissed to learn that the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement wants him to team up with Kuryakin and infiltrate the criminal organization before the world falls victim to a nuclear holocaust. Let the butting of heads continue…

Written by Ritchie and Lionel Wigram, the film is set firmly during the pre-swingin’ 60s and while there are several strut-worthy moments of flash and fashion all set to an Italian pop soundtrack, large portions of the film waver with uncharacteristically indifference from Ritchie as two agents of U.N.C.L.E. suit-up for cheeky asides in fashionable dress. All of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a breezy affair. I’m down with that. Unfortunately, in between the breeze is the discomforting feeling that there’s something “off” with the cast.

With Cavill and Hammer at the center, I expected a solid chemistry between the two. Unfortunately, there just isn’t much. Cavill channels an ill-affecting Cary Grant and, ultimately, has nothing more to do when confronted with the brute tactics of Hammer’s Kuryakin. The play between the two quickly flatlines and leaves Vikander (who is supremely underused) and Hugh Grant as Alexander Waverly, a hardheaded leader of U.N.C.L.E., to save the picture with quick sparks along the way. They don’t.

What you have is a fun film that just doesn’t play as strongly as it could and should have. Other than the cast, the other issue here at the center of it all is that the target audience for this isn’t old enough to have ever seen the show. Good. It begs for reinvention. One would think Ritchie would run with that just as he did with Sherlock Holmes. He doesn’t. Instead of making the picture uniquely his, Ritchie settles for curious restraint and delivers an antiquated spy story that is only moderately framed with his usual zippy flair; he goes old-fashioned and delivers an amusing but utterly forgettable ride. I can’t help but feel that perhaps his throwback idea would have worked better with a different cast.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a fizzy tonic to cap off the summer. Nothing more and nothing less.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence, some suggestive content, and partial nudity
Runtime:
116 mins
Director
: Guy Ritchie
Writer:
Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram
Cast:
Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander
Genre
: Action
Tagline:
Hugh Grant is the Intelligence
Memorable Movie Quote: "Not very good at this whole subtlety thing, are you?"
Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site: http://www.manfromuncle.com/#home
Release Date:
August 14, 2015
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 17, 2015.
Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. centers on CIA agent Solo and KGB agent Kuryakin. Forced to put aside longstanding hostilities, the two team up on a joint mission to stop a mysterious international criminal organization, which is bent on destabilizing the fragile balance of power through the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology. The duo's only lead is the daughter of a vanished German scientist, who is the key to infiltrating the criminal organization, and they must race against time to find him and prevent a worldwide catastrophe.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 17, 2015
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio:
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps); Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps); Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; Digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: A

Warner Bros presents Guy Ritchie’s splashy sun-filled spy caper on blu-ray with a gorgeous 1080p transfer. It is as if the sun itself has placed a kiss upon its cheek as the detail and color are bursting forth from the disc. Details are expansive and, with a hyper-focus on fabrics, the accuracy is breathtaking. These are the Rome shoots, mind you, as the locations set in East and West Berlin are stark by design and in comparison. Colors are bold and detailed. Shadows don’t dominate the film and lines hold their edges. Dialogue – delivered here courtesy of a damn impressive Dolby Atmos (core Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless) soundtrack – is dynamic and clear and the immersive qualities of the score, pop songs, and sound effects are bold.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

From a featurette that focuses on Ritchie himself and another that collects the scraps of the film, the supplemental items are a bit all over the place.  The most interesting, of course, is the opening one which focuses on the inspiration for the film’s look, the locations, and the vehicles.  After that, we get pretty standard with looks at the stunts, the motorcycles used in the film, and looks at the films two male leads.

  • Spy Vision: Recreating 60's Cool (9 min)
  • A Higher Class of Hero (7 min)
  • Métisse Motorcycles: Proper—and Very British (5 min)
  • The Guys from U.N.C.L.E. (5 min)
  • A Man of Extraordinary Talents (3 min)
  • U.N.C.L.E.: On-Set Spy (5 min)

 

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