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Monday, August 17, 2015
Director Guy Ritchie is the one who brought us both Robert Downey, Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies, and his particular movie making style in on display again in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I always give movies based on old television series a shot because I am a sucker for old television shows. But I am usually turned off by the way that the movies try to modernize and change those series and sometimes make them unrecognizable. This movie not only preserved the series, it had several tributes to the series that I found fun.

I find it a little difficult to put my finger on exactly what I did not like about this movie. Despite the action dragging in spots, I never really found myself being bored. The biggest complaints I have about the movie have to do with its lazy ending. It would have taken five minutes to set up the situations that lead to the ending scene, but Ritchie decided to leave out that five minutes and jump right into a series of events that just did not fit with the rest of the movie.

Many people complained about the stereotypical characters in this movie, but that is just one of the tributes the movie made to the television series. I am by no means an expert on the television show, but I watched a couple of episodes and the movie stayed right in step with the series, as far as I could tell. It even looked to me like Ritchie used some kind of lens filter to make the movie look like a 1960s television show, and I appreciated that as well.

Inevitably, time and technology are going to have an effect on a movie and that does occur with U.N.C.L.E. The humor here is much darker than the television series, but it is extremely funny in parts. Some of the spy toys we see may have had more modern inspirations, but they were still fun to watch.

Ritchie used several effects in the movie that were used on the show, such as having subtitles for a conversation we could see, but not hear. He also used flashbacks in much the same way the series did, which I actually found easy to follow despite their random placement. The clothing, props, and vehicles were all vintage 1960s and that only helped to add to the look and feel of the movie.

The thing about U.N.C.L.E. is that it is a different kind of spy movie. We do not have the non-stop action of a James Bond or Mission Impossible movie, which is why parts of the movie seem to drag. The characters are stereotypical caricatures of people from that era, which may be why it is so hard to get emotionally involved in what the characters are doing. Shallow characters make for good comedy, but there is nothing there for the audience to grab onto and care about in the end.

Despite all of those issues and Hugh Grant’s pretty uninspired performance, Ritchie holds the movie together very well until the last 15 minutes. As the movie starts to draw to a close, Ritchie gets lazy and simply starts closing out storylines with resolutions that are not consistent to what had gone on for the previous one hour and 45 minutes. We don’t even get the feeling that this is a real team until Hugh Grant’s character calls it a team at the end of the movie. It would not have taken much for Ritchie to end this movie with a bang, but instead he chose a whimper.

All in all, this is a very different type of spy movie that I think audiences will like. It plays well on the big screen, but is definitely not a movie for the kids. Grab your popcorn and sit back in the comfort of your own vehicle and enjoy the ride with The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Rating: 2 ½ out of 5

+George N Root III is a drive-in fanatic and also a fan of old television shows. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him an email at georgenroot3@gmail.com. Follow the conversation about this and other movies at https://www.facebook.com/enpatthedrivein.



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