Movie Comments – The Man From U.N.C.L.E

The required US legal disclaimer: All images are the property of their owners I reproduce them here under the Fair Use Doctrine of the copyright law for commentary and critique

The required US legal disclaimer: All images are the property of their owners I reproduce them here under the Fair Use Doctrine of the copyright law for commentary and critique

Back in the heat of August Mike and I were looking for something to do on a hot Sunday afternoon. We opted for a movie. The choices when we wanted to go were Ant-Man and Man From U.N.C.L.E.  I wasn’t so avid to see Ant-Man (I never liked the character) but would choose Marvel as a default setting.  So I let Mike pick since he was going and it was Man From U.N.C.L.E.  or as I like to think of it the movie that was bored with itself.

I remember my Dad chuckling to the original tv series reruns back in the day.  So I was game to give it a try.  The best thing about the movie was the music.  You know if you are be-bopping along to the music not caring if you lose a point of the movie that’s not a good sign.  The other thing was the costumes, yes it looked very 60’s-ish.  So there.  If you like fun music and 60s fashions this is the movie for you.

However, if you want a cast with a chemistry, actors who aren’t just going through the motions, a plot you care about resolving, or consistency in tone.  This is not your movie.

The three leads had no chemistry.  It was like blocking rehearsals before a read through – just moving about each other without any feel of interaction.  The actors themselves seem bored with the script.  It’s like they are doing it without any spark or emotional investment.  You know what really sells a role is the emotional investment an actor brings to any role be it Schindler or Loki.  Instead I felt they wanted to get through the scene and back to the catering truck, never really sold me the character was real, much less a person.

Plot was pretty straight forward even with what were supposed to be plot twists.  There were signs  that they were coming like on a mountainous road where there are warnings of hairpin turns.  Here the twists were told way before they were revealed.  There is a scene were American and Soviet spy leaders meet in Paris to talk.  It was easy to tell that all there at the little café were security so when the gag came that as the leaders were leading the crowd would stand part and go with their respective leader wasn’t even funny, just another step toward the end of this movie.

Finally I think the source of all these issues was the movie’s inability to decide if they wanted to play the story straight or campy.  Now given the original was campy played for laughs.  It would have been fine to do that consistently here and could have been a cute movie.  If the team wanted to be more original they could have played it serious the whole way through.  That would have set the movie apart from the series and could with better pacing been a tense spy thriller.  But no, it waffled back and forth between the two.  Which I think was why the cast never seemed invested, they didn’t know what to invest in a comedy or a thriller.

In the end as an audience member I quit caring.  I enjoyed the fashion show, all three leads are lovely and wore the clothes well.  I be-bopped to the music.  Liked my soda and popcorn in the air-conditioned theater and thus passed the afternoon.  However afterward when chatting with friends who went to the same theater, at the same time but chose Ant-Man  I regretted we didn’t make the same choice – we’d seen a good movie, met some friends, and gone to dinner.  Eh sometimes you win some and sometimes all you get good music and popcorn.

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