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Guy Ritchie
Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Grant, Jared Harris
Writing Credits:
Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram

In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.

Box Office:
$75 million.
Opening Weekend
$13,535,000 on 3,638 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English Dolby Atmos
English Descriptive Audio
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 116 min.
Price: $44.95
Release Date: 11/17/2015

• “Spy Vision: Recreating 60s Cool” Featurette
• “A Higher Class of Hero” Featurette
• “Metisse Motorcycles: Proper – And Very British” Featurette
• “The Guys from UNCLE” Featurette
• “A Man of Extraordinary Talents” Featurette
• “UNCLE: On-Set Spy” Featurette
• Preview
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Man from UNCLE [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 10, 2015)

With 2015’s The Man from UNCLE, we get a cinematic reboot of the 1960s spy TV series. After World War II, Nazi rocket scientist Udo Teller (Christian Berkel) goes to work for the Americans. In 1963, Teller goes missing so the CIA sends Agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) to try to find him.

How does he do this? Solo goes to East Berlin to find Teller’s daughter Gaby (Alicia Vikander), as the authorities figure she’ll be able to help locate the missing scientist.

Solo isn’t the only one after Gaby and Udo, though, as the Soviets send KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) on a similar assignment. Because they pursue the same goal, Solo and Kuryakin butt heads – until they learn that their respective agencies want to pair them up to accomplish Teller’s recapture. Plenty of deceit and intrigue ensues as the natural enemies attempt to play nice with each other.

I’m old, but I’m not old enough to remember the original UNCLE TV series. It went off the air when I was an infant, so it essentially predates me. I knew of the show but in my pre-cable youth, I didn’t see it in reruns – and as of 2015, I’ve still not watched it.

As such, I can’t comment on what liberties the 2015 movie takes with its source. I do like the fact those involved kept the film set in the 1960s, though. That may sound like a no-brainer, as the Cold War antics of UNCLE don’t make sense in a modern setting, but that doesn’t mean Hollywood wouldn’t have attempted to shoehorn the characters into some other realm, like having them fight terrorists in Afghanistan. Those changes might have worked, but I think the project fares better as an alternate version of the TV series and not something that tries too hard to cram the scenarios into current events.

With Guy Ritchie behind the camera, though, UNCLE clearly doesn’t attempt to emulate films of the 60s. Actually, I can see nods in that direction, but the cinematic styles on display remain largely modern. Ritchie has always been a visceral director, and he gives the movie a lot of visual panache.

With all that going for it, why does UNCLE leave me somewhat unenthused? Really, there’s little I can say that goes obviously wrong here, but the end result still comes across as less than exciting, and I find it hard to pinpoint the problems.

I think the project just never quite gels. Ritchie tries hard to make the movie zing, but it often seems curiously flat. The film wants desperately to be frisky and playful, but instead it seems calculated and lackluster.

The lead actors have something to do with it. As our main spies, Cavill and Hammer deliver competent performances, but neither one displays much charisma. They don’t exhibit a lot of chemistry, and they don’t connect especially well to leading lady Vikander either. Again, I don’t think any of them perform poorly, but they simply lack the qualities needed to carry the project.

The plot also feels limp. Granted, the main narrative – the search for Dr. Teller – essentially falls into “MacGuffin” territory, for that thread acts as little more than a motivator for action and character interactions.

If those elements popped off the screen better, the lack of real story thrust wouldn’t matter. Since the tale tends to sag, though, the absence of a strong plot becomes more of a liability.

All of this leaves UNCLE as a moderately entertaining experience that disappoints. This doesn’t make it a bad movie, but it lacks the zest and energy it needs.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus C-

The Man from UNCLE appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, this was an appealing transfer.

Sharpness usually looked strong. A little softness appeared at times, some of which seemed to be a stylistic choice, but the majority of the film provided a tight, well-defined image. Jagged edges and moiré effects remained absent, while edge haloes and digital noise reduction also failed to appear. Print flaws stayed absent as well.

Like most modern action films, UNCLE went with a teal and orange palette. These tones seemed a little surprising given the movie’s period setting – I thought UNCLE might favor tones that represented 1960s flicks - but they worked fine within the movie’s design parameters and showed good delineation. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows boasted nice clarity and smoothness. I felt this was a consistently positive image.

As befits a slick action movie, the flick’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack offered a lot of pizzazz. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 on my system, the mix used the channels in an involving manner throughout the majority of the film. This meant cars, gunfire and other mayhem all around the room, and the elements connected in a concise, smooth manner. Add to that music as a bold partner and the soundscape turned into an aggressive experience.

Audio quality always satisfied. Music was dynamic and full, and effects followed suit; those components came across as accurate and wel-developed. Speech seemed distinctive and crisp, without edginess or other issues. Everything impressed in this strong soundtrack.

In terms of extras, the Blu-ray comes with some featurettes. Spy Vision: Recreating 60s Cool runs eight minutes, 34 seconds and provides info from producer/writer Lionel Wigram, producer/writer/director Guy Ritchie, costume designer Joanna Johnston, supervising location manager Sue Quinn, production designer Oliver Scholl, action vehicles coordinator Alex King, and actors Armie Hammer, Elizabeth Debicki, Sylvester Groth, Hugh Grant, Alicia Vikander, and Henry Cavill. “Vision” discusses costumes, locations and production design, technology and vehicles. Despite an undercurrent of hyperbole, “Vision” mostly offers a good look at how the film recreated its 1960s period.

During the seven-minute, 13-second A Higher Class of Hero, we locate notes from Wigram, Ritchie, Vikander, Cavill, Hammer, King, 2nd unit director/stunt coordinator Paul Jennings, special effects supervisor Dominic Tuohy and actor Luca Calvani. “Hero” looks at the movie’s stunts and action. Like “Vision”, this can feel a bit over the top, but it comes with a reasonable amount of information.

Next comes Metisse Motorcycles: Proper – And Very British. It fills four minutes, 49 seconds with remarks from Hammer, assistant stunt coordinator Lee Morrison and Metisse Motorcycle owner Gerry Lisi. Here Hammer and Morrison get a tour from Lisi and let us see the inner workings of the Metisse. It’s a fun look at the motorcycle.

The Guys from UNCLE lasts four minutes, 57 seconds and features Wigram, Ritchie, Cavill, Hammer, Vikander, Calvani Tuohy, Jennings, and actor Jared Harris. “Guys” discusses cast and characters. A few facts emerge, but mostly this adds up to praise for Hammer and Cavill.

With A Man of Extraordinary Talents, we discover a three-minute, 16-second reel with Hammer, Cavill, Debicki, Vikander, Wigram, Calvini, Grant, producer Steve Clark-Hall. “Man” looks at Ritchie’s impact on the set. The featurette follows in the fluffy footsteps of “Guys” and lacks much real informational value.

Finally, UNCLE: On-Set Spy consists of four behind the scenes clips. With a total running time of five minutes, 16 seconds, we get “Don’t Swim Elegantly” (1:08), “You Want to Wrestle?” (1:11), “Heli Restored” (1:09) and “A Family Thing” (1:48). The first two show footage from the shoot without any commentary, but “Heli” offers notes from Wigram and helicopter owner/pilot Robert Hields and “Thing” features assistant director trainee Rory Gibb. I like the presentation and think these snippets can be enjoyable.

The disc opens with an ad for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. No trailer for UNCLE shows up here.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of UNCLE. It includes “A Higher Class of Hero” but lacks the other extras.

Aspects of The Man From UNCLE work well, but the movie seems curiously lackluster overall. While I think it delivers acceptable entertainment, it never becomes better than average. The Blu-ray offers solid picture and audio along with a handful of supplements. UNCLE keeps us moderately engaged but it fails to excel.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 12
3 3:
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