Impressions from an extended U.N.C.L.E. movie preview

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. teaser poster

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. teaser poster

By Kevin Bertrand Collette, Guest Writer

Ok , so you did not want to dance …
Would you want to wrestle , then ?

(Gaby Teller/ Alicia Vikander)

Ok, I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m not really a fan of Guy Ritchie’s movies.

And although I attended the Strasbourg French shooting of Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows, it was more out of curiosity than anything else.

I was therefore a bit anxious about the result of his adaptation of the Cult TV series of the Sixties (based on various ideas by Ian Fleming himself), The Man From U.N.C.L.E .

Warner France organised at its Neuilly headquarters this Wednesday a Show Case of the new movie, consisting of 40 minutes of extracts of the upcoming movie, completed by a wonderful exhibition of storyboards, costumes drawings and various pre- production sketches.

So open channel D!

And stop reading right there if you do not want to learn some massive spoilers at every turn of my little compte-rendu …

First extract takes place in KGB headquarters in Moscow, where some top ranking officer lectures Illya Kuryakin about Napoleon Solo.

We then learn practically everything that is to know about the CIA man,an ex art dealer (a talent he acquired during World War II when stealing stuff back from the Nazis for the allied forces) .

Solo’s natural talents for smooth undercover action is rapidly noted, he is hired by the Agency and quickly became one of their top operator. All this is explained to Kuryakin – a massive silent giant who has just be chosen to team up with the American to dismantle a new terrorist organization .

Second extract is a (much) longer version of the East Berlin car chase, where Solo and his lovely protégée try to lose Kuryakin through the cobbed streets of Berlin. But nothing seems to stop the Russian (not even concrete walls. I surprise myself thinking there of Richard Kiel’s Jaws character … ).

After a lengthy chase ( without the ‘ cheek-to-cheek car waltz appearing in the trailer, btw), abandoning their car which tires have been shot at by the persistent Soviet agent , the duo enter a building situated just in front of the infamous Berlin wall .

Solo pulls up a gadget ( à la Goldeneye grappling hook belt) and with the help of a fellow agent parked just on the other side of said Wall, the two Westerners escape the fury of the Russian in the nick of time …

Third extract takes place in a U.S. novelty shop where Solo, Kuryakin and the girl choose various Haute Couture dresses for their lady companion. The plan is to infiltrate in Rome the evil organization with Kuryakin and madame posing as a couple of Russian architects, while Solo will tail them . It’s an amusing sequence where Illya is horrified by the decadent tastes of Western women, while Solo keeps on mocking him for his peasant tastes.

Fourth extract takes place in a Rome Hotel bedroom, where Madame is getting bored while Illya quietly tries to play chess. The nerves of the Russian slightly began to crack when she turns up the volume of the Radio and starts to dance.

Fifth extract sees Illya and Madame strolling by the Colisée and being then abruptly mugged by a couple of local thieves. Since Kuryakin’s specific instructions are him to pass for a gentle spirit (understand : a coward) , he has to refrain himself not to knock out both thugs with just one hand! A rather funny sequence indeed, with Solo finally commenting, “Not sure you were made for that part.”

Sixth and final extract took place in an unidentified harbor – where Solo and Kuryakin manage to escape the commando after them.

While Solo slips very early in the water (without Kuryakin realizing that) and then comfortably settles down in a truck parked nearby to observe the nautical chase going on, his partner’s speedboat is finally gunned down .

Solo immediately enters in action full throttle and throws his truck right into the Villain’s boat!

He then manages to save Illya (who was slowly drowning) and bring him back to terra ferma .

Screening concluded with a much longer version of the trailer (with a line of hugh Grant I instantly memorized, “You are from now on a very special agent , Mr Solo.”)

So, what to think of it, in the end ?

I , for one, was instantly immersed into that Cold war drama setting. And I never honestly try to put the faces of Mr. Vaughn nor Mr. McCallum in lieu et place of their modern counterparts, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer.

I guess some die hard U.N.C.L.E fans will scream in rage at the new Illya Kuryakin (who is first presented as a bully-type character but then mellows into a nice individual of his own. The Russian accent is much more pronounced than in the TV series of course , but Illya finally appears as a much more interesting character than dapper Napoleon Solo. It reminds me in place of the Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Red Heat police officer: subtle and unstoppable as a T80 soviet Tank, but with a very big heart and sense of friendship.

Alicia Vikander is a great Female element. She frequently conjures images of Audrey Hepburn, and her interaction with both Hammer and Cavill is genuine and quite fun . Miss Vikander is quite a feisty girl indeed.

As for the music, no classic UNCLE theme heard anywhere but a very 1960s type style , à la John Barry.

Can’t wait to see the final version of the movie .

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