Friday, June 3, 2016

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

   Who doesn't love spy films? Since the thirties, espionage films had affected world culture with memorable characters; interesting villains, unbelievable gadgets, exotic locations, and of course; the womanizing. Even though espionage movies started in the early 1930's, they did become popular during the 1960's thanks to the help of Ian Fleming's fictional M16 agent, James Bond. As a charming British spy, James Bond (Sean Connery) was a complete inspiration for spy films that followed his 1962 debut in Dr. No. Either it be the wackiness of Austin Powers or the action packed Jason Bourne, OO7 played some sort of role in the success for each spy since then. While most spy films were featured as motion pictures, they also had achieved in television shows. From Get Smart to The Avengers, television spies carried on the legacy of espionage. While the British released another James Bond film (Goldfinger) in 1964, the United States had released The Man from U.N.C.L.E. on television. The United Network Command for Law Enforcement, an acronym for UNCLE; was created as an fictional arm for the United Nations, based in New York City. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was heavily influenced by Ian Fleming (thanks to co-creator Norman Felton), and became a hit after the introduction of an unlikely duo (Russian and the United States). Personally I don't know a lot about the original television series but, after watching this film; I wouldn't mind getting into it (or the book series).

    The casting in this film was truly superb. Napoleon Solo, a sixties CIA agent; was portrayed by actor Henry Cavill (Man of Steel). Cavill did an outstanding job as Napoleon Solo (no relation to Han) rather than Clark Kent in my opinion. It seemed that Cavill actually enjoyed playing Solo, and after watching his performance on both small and big screen; I personally feel that he was born to play this role. Aside from the actor, Napoleon was actually more of an American James Bond with the exception of a few flaws in his character. Being blackmailed by the CIA to become an effective spy rather than rotting in jail due to war crimes (theft) doesn't sound fun in the first place especially when you have a over-the-shoulder type of boss (Sanders; Jared Harris). On the other side of the iron curtain though, Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer; The Lone Ranger) was indeed a worthy adversary and partner. As a KGB agent whom has lots of family demons and built up rage; I truly enjoyed how he kept his accent all the way through the film alongside his overpowering Russian heritage. Aside from Napoleon and Illya, Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina) was truly an overpowering female role especially when you find out her secret later on through the film. Vikander's performance too was aspiring as well as truly remarkable. A daughter of an "ex-Nazi" whom had connections to knowing how to make a nuclear bomb, and an outstanding mechanic/driver; Gaby was truly unbelievable. Not to mention the love tension between her and Illya also made it interesting (West Berlin girl meets KGB's top agent). The main villainess, Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki, The Great Gatsby), was truly twisted while at the same time very seductive. Also lets not forget about Alexander Waverly (Hugh Grant, The Lair of the White Worm), the British creator of UNCLE and the one whom got the team together.

     The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is truly an unique historical fiction film. From the separation of Berlin after World War II to the beginning of the Cold War, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. shares its realism with other films like Miracle and even X-Men: First Class. Even the '60's feeling was kept throughout the film via photographs and camera; making it seem as though you were actually there. I also enjoyed how it changed locations throughout Europe. One minute you're in Germany trying to rescue someone from Western Berlin to killing the bad guys in Rome; this film had a wide array of beautifully set locations. I also enjoyed the subtitling as well, especially when its used for a feeling of realism. The most unique subtitling was probably when Gaby was riding in the car with her Uncle Rudi (Sylvester Groth) to lunch. My reasoning is that, even though you could hear bits and pieces; you could read the entire conversation without not knowing what's happening. Also the entire theme of the film, espionage, was carried throughout perfectly. One second you think somebody is on your team but then you get the order to kill your new partner; or not knowing if someone is indeed a double agent of sorts. The guessing and the flashbacks for Napoleon's antics had the film even better throughout it. I actually enjoyed how the film takes place in 1963 (a year before the original television show airs) makes it more into an origin story than an average approach to remakes.The credits also were helpful as you learn more about the four main characters in bios.

     There are so many favorite scenes that its hard to choose which is my all-time favorite. The beginning with the entire rescue by Solo was amazingly well done, while the Italian mountain chase was also quite entertaining. If I had to choose one scene though, it'll have to be when Cowboy (Solo) and Peril (Illya) first go on a "secret mission" together at the satellite factory. From start to finish, it was truly a highlight for the film as you begin to see a friendship forming. The best part also has to be when Solo falls into the water; gets into a nearby truck, and begins to eat while playing classical Italian music as he watches Illya try to escape an enemy boat. That's another thing I like too; the use of music throughout the film. Aside from the score, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. had an interesting set of music playing throughout the film; mainly in Italian. This film is indeed an all-time favorite. Also lets not forget to mention that the Lone Ranger kicks Superman's ass in that bathroom brawl.

    My rating for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a definite 5 out of 5. After seeing it again and again (plus finally writing a review on it), this film is truly a masterpiece. The director did an outstanding job with realism and historical standpoints throughout while telling a truly thrilling story. The story itself is truly unbelievable while the cinematography is professionally well done. For example, after shooting at Illya's vehicle in Berlin before the flashback with the briefing; how the camera zooms into Solo's face with light forming underneath his eyes while everything begins to dark around him. That right there is the best use of a camera I had ever seen. Its truly remarkable and inspiring. The character development, action sequences, and the dialogue were too perfect for this film. Aside from my off tangent "fangirling", if you haven't seen this film than you are truly missing out on life. You need to see this film. You must watch it. This is the first film in years that I actually love watching again and again (aside from Deadpool). Please, do yourself a favor and either buy it, rent it, or stream it. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a true spy film gold mine.

"For a special agent, you're not having a very special day, are you?"        

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