I got along to The Man From UNCLE last Sunday. It is not the UNCLE I watched as a boy, but I enjoyed it all the same. My only cavil (did you see what I did there?) was with Napoleon Solo’s hair. Way too long for the early 60s. A man whose hair touched his collar back in those days was either a bum, a hippie, or (ahem) interested in other men. Other than that the movie was pretty faithful to the era. And it was solid entertainment.
When it became obvious that the movie was really and truly going ahead a few years ago, I thought an origin story would be a good basis for it. I had my doubts about the casting, however. Nor did Guy Ritchie impress me as director; I enjoyed Snatched, but his characteristic machine-gun jump cuts can become annoying. Credit therefore to Mr Ritchie for fitting himself to the UNCLE material and not the other way around. He got the ball rolling and left a good set-up for a sequel or two. (We can only wonder what sort of UNCLE Stephen Soderbergh would have delivered!)
There has been a lot of discussion about the music. Jerry Goldsmith’s original theme is heard for all of two seconds as Solo twists the dial on a radio. I heard Morricone and thought that was pushing the ‘cowboy’ joke a bit hard. (Kuryakin dubs Solo ‘Cowboy’. Solo’s retort is ‘Red Peril’ – or just ‘Peril’.) I heard what I thought were balalaikas too, which put me in mind of The Quiller Memorandum.
Looking at the film’s Trivia page on IMDB I see a lot of references that escaped me. Whatever. When the credits ended and the lights went up, I walked out happy that I’d got my money’s worth. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I watched the movie alone. As in, nobody else in the cinema. With the film released here a couple of weeks after Tom Hangs Off A Plane, and with SPECTRE coming before year’s end, The Man From UNCLE seems to have lost the battle at the local box office. Which for some reason makes me feel very, very old.
PS: It may be just coincidence, but Elizabeth Debicki grew up here in Australia. Her family settled in Melbourne, which is the capital city of – which Australian state? Anyone?