I really wasn’t sure about going to see this. I loved the TV series growing up – Robert Vaughn and David McCallum were sooooo cool – though I don’t think I appreciated at the time the extent to which it was spoofing the spy films of the 60s (same with Batman – the Adam West version: I just thought it was exciting). But I’d heard good things from sources I usually trust so we gave it a go.
If I had to limit myself to one word to describe The Man From UNCLE it would be “stylish” (sorry, it’s late again – pub quiz night (we came third this week, thanks for asking) – so I’m skipping the punctuation between the letters of UNCLE to save typing time). It’s got a strong sense of the 60s spy genre, though without the silliness that the TV series had. The script is sharp and playful, the action isn’t overdone, and the costumes give such a sense of the style of the time, at least as exemplified by that type of sixties movie.
I have one quibble. A key plot device comes when Ilya Kuryakin and Gaby Teller have to pose as an engaged couple and check into a hotel in Italy. I can’t help thinking that, in the early sixties when this is set, there wasn’t the same modern liberal attitude to unmarried, albeit engaged, couples sharing rooms (even if the room does have twin beds). Their cover would have been more secure with separate rooms, though that wouldn’t have helped the plot along so well.
Some changes have been made from the TV show – Napoleon Solo now has a background as a convicted thief, for example – but that’s fine: you couldn’t get away with making changes to, say, Star Trek, but The Man From Uncle isn’t cut from the same cult cloth.
Guy Ritchie looks like he’s hit on a new franchise to follow up his Sherlock Holmes movies. Should be fun.