Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

This review is Spoiler-free.

Based on the classic 60's TV show of the same name, this -writ and directed spy caper focuses on the adventures of an American spy () and an Russian one () when they are partnered together to protect a German girl () and catch some evil bad guys who have a nuclear bomb.

I still don't know what U.N.C.L.E. stands for. Probably only because I wasn't paying attention.

Plot really isn't the important part of this movie. It gives way to the movies sense of style, and before you know it 60's glam is permanently in the driver's seat. And credit to where credit is due; it's all quite effectively glamorous. Costumes and cars and cheeky characters lounge around and give off the impression that this is less of a movie and more like a fashion magazine. And eventually the glam turns to glare. I write this a few weeks after seeing the film, and what has stuck with me most is the lack of impression I had concerning almost anything except how the movie looked.

I didn't expect too much from the characters, and got about what I expected to, but the results were turned around a little. I thought Henry Cavill's character would be the most interesting since he was the "main character," but Armie Hammer's character wound up being just as "main" and even more likable and interesting by far -- in spite of the distracting Russian accent. His Illya turned out to be quite a sweetheart with endearing complexities while Cavill's Solo was charming on the surface, but too cool to touch underneath. Vikander's Gaby fell victim to the confusion of an overly-sharp plot twist, and never regained footing back in her character for me after that. was endlessly stoic and elegant, and the most convincingly retro, but her villainous character never strove for anything beyond the surface, in a classic case of style over substance.

Yes, a nap sounds like a nice idea...

The plot never engaged me enough for me to bother to really try and follow it, and by the time I realized that waiting for the action scenes was going to leave me unsatisfied in the end (because action scenes were rather few and far between) it was too late. It was certainly my fault, and thinking back the dramatic scenes were not at all bad, it's just that I was only really engaged in them when they were specifically developing character. And then only really in Illya's case. There were more action scenes at the film's beginning (which in my defense did give me a wrong first impression) and there were only three or four really memorable scenes -- two being a car chase sequence. After the latter car chase, the film puttered off to an end climax based on non-action things -- spy stuff and plot things that I didn't want to pay attention to, and the last "gotcha" moment was just dramatics which, I found, was pretty unfulfilling.

A little romance never hurts, fortunately.

I was hoping this would be a fun and funny caper where I could turn my mind off and enjoy a film that was made to be enjoyed, with no effort required. Unfortunately, the movie didn't have the cotton candy/popcorn flavor that would have found success with me. I knew it wouldn't be a ground breaking feat of the cinema, but it turned out to not be the kind of goofy cheesy spy-flick that turns my head either. Its main goal seemed to be setting up for a sequel that will probably never happen now because they forgot to make the one it had memorable. I simultaneously found it too serious, yet not serious enough; charming, but not drawing, often humorous, but not funny, and dramatic, but not witty. Characters and action stood out, but didn't get enough attention devoted to them to be truly rewarding. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. fades away into a brightly colored, jumbled, and hazy ball of not-quite-good-enough.

10 comments:

  1. That's a shame you didn't like the movie. My family fell in love with it; it's s definite favorite in our house. I think my parents enjoyed it because they watched the original show when it had its run.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That makes sense that I might have liked it more if I'd seen the TV show. I definitely see what you might like in it -- I'm glad it was a hit for y'all! :)

      Delete
  2. Aww, bummer that you didn't dig it. I loved it so much, I saw it 5 times in 5 weeks when it was in the theater. But so far I only know a couple other people who really liked it, so you're not alone. (UNCLE only got explained in the end credits, btw -- United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Now you know.)

    The plot of this one really works beautifully when you watch it a second time and can see how it all slots together. But if you didn't pay much attention to the plot the first time, that won't quite work, I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it was a bummer. I did enjoy it alright though, so I'm glad to have finally seen it. And it makes sense to me why you and others liked it so well -- it just didn't work the same on me. For some reason. Strange because it's a genre that I usually enjoy a lot. (Thanks for reminding me of that -- I think I remember seeing it now!)

      Yeah... I mean I didn't ignore the plot or anything, but I can see now that I underestimated it's importance. :/ So that was my bad. Maybe if I ever see it again I'll be able to enjoy it differently with different expectations. :)

      Delete
  3. It's funny because I agree with all your thoughts on UNCLE (except about Gaby's character getting lost, my dad would agree with that part though ;)) , but you didn't like it and I did. I guess it really is a hit or miss movie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, that is interesting. It makes sense though, because I did see what was good and appealing about it, but yeah, I just didn't really like it. I think you're right! Glad you liked it though! :)

      Delete
  4. Nice review! My family really loved it, and it's probably our favorites that Guy Ritchie has directed. I agree, the villainness could've had more layers to her. But overall, it's a lot of fun. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Katy! I'm glad y'all liked it! I agree, I had my share of fun watching myself -- that's something that a lack of depth rarely gets in the way of. :)

      Delete
  5. A thought. This movie is like if American James Bond teamed up with Russian Jason Bourne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! You're right, it is a lot like that! Quite a lot. :P

      Delete