We watched the Steven Soderbergh-directed (and photographed and edited under aliases) Side Effects because it was the movie he did after dumping a film version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in late 2011.
Overall, we’d give it a B grade, with maybe an A after a slow first 20-25 minutes. It was one last chance to get an idea of the U.N.C.L.E. that never was. While we had a better time than we expected (after the director’s Contagion in September 2011 and Haywire in January 2012), we still had the feeling that, despite a long drawn-out soap opera, things ended up for the best.
Among the reasons: This was one more chance to view Channing Tatum, one of the actors whose name was floated as a Napoleon Solo for Soderbergh. He’s a hot star now but…no thanks. He even shows up in one scene in a tuxedo (not uncommon for Solo on the 1964-68 television series) but he looks more like now-retired NFL linebacker Ray Lewis than Solo.
Also, Side Effects was written by Scott Z. Burns, who, based on recent comments, we’re not sure really gets what makes U.N.C.L.E. tick. While we don’t expect any future U.N.C.L.E. movie to be a clone of the TV show, it still helps to have an idea of the core ideas. Put another way: The various Marvel Comics movies that have come out since Iron Man in 2008 aren’t clones of the original comics, but they successful take the basics and update them well.
Essentially, Side Effects is like a theatrical movie version of Law & Order, the 1990-2010 television series where many episodes look simple but run into twists. Except that Side Effects includes a Rooney Mara-Catherine Zeta-Jones love scene that you didn’t get on the TV show. Meanwhile, Jude Law is effective as a psychiatrist who becomes a dupe in a murder plot.
Finally, watching Side Effects provides another footnote — to Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film. The score is by Thomas Newman, who scored an Oscar nomination for his Bond work. Newman’s Side Effects score is much closer to his past work than Skyfall was. Newman’s music for Side Effects contain the Hans Zimmer influence from director Christopher Nolan’s three Batman movies.
UPDATE (Feb. 10): Side Effects finished a distant No. 3 in the U.S.-Canada box office for the Feb. 8-10 weekend with an estimated $10 million in ticket sales, according to BOX OFFICE MOJO. The No. 1 movie was the comedy Identity Thief with an estimated $36.6 million.
Filed under: James Bond Films, The Other Spies Tagged: | A movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.?, Bond 23, Box Office Mojo, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, Contagion, Haywire, James Bond Films, Jude Law, Law & Order, Rooney Mara, Scott Z. Burns, Side Effects, Skyfall, Steven Soderbergh, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, The Other Spies, Thomas Newman