All original written content is (c) 2015 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed is a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: The big-screen version of the classic spy TV show gets the Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Sherlock Holmes)-style treatment. A womanizing former thief-turned-CIA agent teams up with a giant Russian KGB opp with-psyche-issues to unite an East German auto mechanic with her nuclear scientist dad before he helps an evil organization tied to the Nazis create and use a new kind of atom bomb.
Directed by Guy Ritchie, Screenplay by Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram.
- If you’ve seen any other Ritchie flicks and like his style, this won’t disappoint. Some great angles, setups, shots, tricks and techniques that really stand out. Plus the locations are exotic and gorgeous. Though set in the early ‘60s, it’s more stylized than technically accurate, so there’s more emphasis on coolness in fashion and overall look. (But ya gotta love the 60s Jags and other Euro cars.)
- Because of that ‘60s style thing, there’s a split screen/moving multiple-black-bordered panel-thing that works a lot better than it did in Ang Lee’s HULK movie. Plus, Ritchie uses it sparingly at just the right times.
- Just like Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes had “flash forwards” that showed what was going to happen, this has “micro-flashbacks” of key scenes with quick cuts of what you recently saw to show you how something happened. I dug it because I get easily—um, distracted, so it was a great way to explain stuff without you having to try to remember in the middle of the film what happened earlier. And it makes the “reveals” more believable.
- Casting: Henry Man Of Steel Cavill plays Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer (Hoover, The Social Network) plays David McCallum’s Illya Kuryakin, each with a unique take. Throw in the cyborg hottie from Ex Machina, Alicia Vikander, as a tough mechanic/former racecar driver and Elizabeth Debicki as the femme fatale Bond-villain, and you have one good-looking bunch that’s easy on the eyes and dynamite with the dialog.
- The bathroom brawl between Solo and Illya was short but great. Certainly not typical “good guys team up” first meeting stuff.
- The way Cavil and Hammer play off each other is entertaining, as is their mutual dislike. Cavil’s calm, cocky demeanor and dry wit especially hit the mark (though I can see where some snobby critics will think it’s too much of a shtick). Vikander and Hammer also have a great chemistry, and the sexual tension is a good gag.
- Because it’s PG-13, we get a nice “A” shot in panties and one bare side “T” in one scene.
- The car chase is clever and like a ballet in spots, and ends unlike any other I can recall. Not an easy feat.
- One of the rare times where the baddie not only gets what they deserve but we actually get to see it! Ahh, satisfaction.
- Unlike some other “potential franchise launchers,” the ending here sets up a sequel/series in a good way.
- Another example of DTS: Deceptive Trailer Syndrome. This is nothing like the Mission: Impossible or James Bond movies but more like the original TV show. It’s definitely slower paced with less fights, gun battles, stunts and big booms (though there’s at least one of each). Even the humor is more subtle and dry. There’s several situations where the comedy goes on behind the characters while they’re calmly talking in the foreground. I laughed out loud a few times [FROM MIKE: As did my wife and I] but few others in the theater did, so I don’t know if the average viewer will “get it.”
- U.N.C.L.E.’s (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) main nemesis, T.H.R.U.S.H. (The Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity), or just Thrush, does not appear; or at least is not named.
- No button, but you don’t really expect one since the ending was pretty much obviously the end. (Set up for the next installment, if there is one; hope so.)
- Torture scenes can always be uncomfortable and this is no exception. But it’s not too long and they manage to resolve it well. I didn’t have to put down or throw up my popcorn. That’s a plus.
- Because it’s PG-13, I wanted more T and A! If Solo is a “womanizer,” we should see more womanizing, like Bond. The villain chick is hot even tho she’s pretty flat-fronted, but I was hopin’ to see some butt. Same with Vikander. (Thankfully, I can always put in the DVD of Ex Machina and…um, “enjoy”).
- You will have to suspend the ol’ disbelief as with any Guy Ritchie or super-spy flick, but not as much as you would with an M.I. film.
I have seen exactly one episode of the original M.F.U. show in the last two or three decades (earlier this year). But I have the first two seasons of Mission: Impossible on DVD, so I kinda had an idea of what to expect. Normally I’d want more action but once it got going, I was cool with the pacing. If you watch an old TV episode first and don’t expect Bond, you’ll enjoy this a lot more. I’d say you could Rent It, but I want this to do well enough to make more. Cavill is a better Solo than Superman. The team is cool and if Ritchie directs more it would look cool. Sadly I think this came out too close to MI:5 to be a success but we’ll see.
Go check it out and make the studio cry “U.N.C.L.E.!”
P.S.: Hey, what are you waitin’ for? Back To School is just the time to get a new art commission. Who doesn’t like superheroes, hot babes, monsters and zombies? Pascale can do any or all. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, the KGB, the CIA, M.I.F., MI5, U.N.C.L.E., T.H.R.U.S.H., CONTROL, KAOS or (sing it) M-O-U-S-E. Bru-Hed is not an agent, but he definitely likes to play solo with his Napoleon!