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Posts Tagged ‘“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”’

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

“THE MAN FROM UNCLE” My rating: C+

116 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Having dragged down the great Sherlock Holmes to our world of short-attention-span cinema, Guy Ritchie now turns his camera on a fondly remembered TV series from the 1960s.

And, to give credit where it’s due, he has had the good sense to go easy on his usual hyperkinesis. “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” isn’t particularly memorable, but it introduces some interesting ideas and avoids the most headache-inducing elements of this director’s style.

The original was television’s answer to the James Bond craze. Unlike the overtly satiric “Get Smart,” “U.N.C.L.E.” (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) took a dry, tongue-in-cheek approach to international spying.

And in Napoleon Solo (portrayed back in the day by Robert Vaughn) the series gave us an impossibly unruffled, cooler-than-cool protagonist, who could view his own imminent demise with sardonic indifference.  The series was so huge it spawned action figures, toy guns and much more — one of the lunchboxes even has a home at the Smithsonian now.

Ritchie and a small army of writers give us an origin story that is less impressive for its dramatic elements than for its painstaking re-creation of swinging Europe in the ’60s.

Things get off to a busy start when the nattily dressed Solo (Henry Cavill, the current Superman) enters squalid East Berlin to spirit Gaby (“Ex Machina’s” Alicia Vikander), a tomboyish auto mechanic, over the Berlin Wall to freedom.

Their escape is almost foiled by a Soviet agent (Armie Hammer), who with his slow-burn,  hulking presence and almost superhuman strength seems a close relation to Robert Shaw’s assassin in “From Russia With Love.”

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