S & J Double Blind Movie Review. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. August 13, 2015

by Sheila Path McMahon

Sheila’s Take

Sumptuous, warm, sexy.  I loved this.  My experience of the movie was thoroughly enjoyable.  I love the 60’s stylized silhouettes and the camera shots – especially close ups of Napoleon Solo’s face, half in shadow, highlighting his piercing blue eyes.

Be still my heart.

I never saw Superman, or whatever that dude (Solo) was in – Man of Steel, I guess?  Or was he the horse in Man of War? Very fit.  I was surprised that I enjoyed the 60’s cuts that captured the TV show’s style – the odd angles and the sort of rough outlines of the action sequences were well paced and fun.  Slightly confusing in some moments, and slightly redundant in others.  Just like the TV show.

Hugh Grant was good – it’s strange to see him as a distinguished older man, and I almost didn’t buy it, but he sold it.  It took me longer to warm up to the guy who played Kuriyakin, but anyone looking for simple fun and fulfilling entertainment will enjoy this.

I’m glad they retained Solo’s dry sense of humor and his desire to work alone.  I do, however, miss Kuriyakin’s tow-headed blondness. I liked that someone took the time to make sure that there were some strong female roles in this, too, It was nice that not all of the female characters were completely predictable.

Overall, I’d give this an 8 out of 10 – 2 points (at least) for the entertaining action sequences the flaw (or not) of which was that I found myself thinking about the score and music choices that were very prominent and distinctive – drawing focus, but in a very enjoyable way.

Since this is our first Double Blind Review, I’ll explain this part: at the end of our individual reviews, we will rate the movie on a 1-10 scale and guess the rating of the other reviewer.  We see the movies together, so we do have some clues.

My guess: Jay gives this a 7 – mostly because he is nostalgic about the TV show and can’t see the forest for the trees. There are 8 tress, and that’s my rating.  Thanks for reading.  Jay’s review to follow. – Sheila Path McMahon

Jay’s Take

The Man from U.N.C.L.E., from guy Ritchie, is everything you’d expect from the man who turned Robert Downey Jr. into Sherlock Holmes (with more technically accomplished photography.)  It opens with Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) competing against Ilya Kuriyakin (Armie Hammer) to see who gets the girl.  Only they are not competing for the girl romantically.  They need her because her estranged father may be working on a nuclear weapon to deliver to Russian agents.

Cavill and Hammer deliver in an opening sequence that convinced me they were trying to kill each other, which they were. And that was the first of confusing plot point points to come.  The acting is first rate, and more than you need for summer action, which is where Richie’s skill lies.  The direction is crisp, the script is clever, littered with many subtle (and not so subtle) jokes.  The action is fast.  There are even nods to sixties television and James Bond films (split, duo-color screens.) so I come to the part where I’m confused about Ritchie’s intentions.

The movie had all the elements for summer fun, yet there were a few nagging pieces. The first is that it seemed like it’s mostly backstory, which is fine, but as a fan of the TV show, I’m not sure if this backstory existed before.  Hugh Grant plays Waverly in what I think is a clear nod to bringing in the right demographic.  They never set foot in NYC, omitting the dry cleaners’ secret entrance to U.N.C.L.E headquarters, the weird corridors, the gigantic computers and the silly (yet fun) triangle badges.  Also left out were the cars, the high tech gadgets, adn the singular weaponry.

Summer movie season is, or was, the comfort food of the summer.  You were supposed to know exactly what you were getting, so I guess if Mr. Richie is just playing with our expectations of summer movies, that’s probably a good thing.  One goes to a movie based on a TV show they loved growing up with certain expectations.  When the expectations aren’t met completely, the initial reaction isn’t necessarily disappointment, but disbelief.  Hopefully there’s a sequel where the agents can become more of themselves and find their toys.  For that, I will suspendy my disbelief at the door.  Nostalgia can be a tricky business is something Waverly may or may not say.  I would give this a strong 7.  If no sequel comes out, can I change my number?  I believe Sheila gave it an 8.5. – Jay McMahon

Well, that’s it, folks, the first installment of what is sure to be a long series which will at least entertain the two of us.  We would love comments!  Thanks, S & J