Five years later: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

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

Five years after the 2015 movie of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. came out, my social media inbox is pretty full about the Guy Ritchie-directed film.

It’s a mixed bag. I know some people who loved it. These folks liked the updated take on Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) and Alexander Waverly (Hugh Grant).

Within that group, there was a sigh of relief the movie didn’t end up like Wild Wild West (1999) and I Spy (2002) — other films based on 1960s spy shows.

I know others who hated it.

With that group, there’s criticism about the lack of a secret headquarters, badges (to access the secret headquarters) and cool gadgets. It’s not U.N.C.L.E., just something with that name.

Over the past year, I’ve gotten a few questions about my own opinion. For me, despite changing Solo’s backstory, the Henry Cavill version of Solo is more or less where Robert Vaughn’s original was.

The more radical change was Armie Hammer’s Kuryakin. The 2015 movie suggests some serious mental issues. That didn’t stop David McCallum from endorsing the film in a 2015 interview with Fox News.

My main complaint? The filmmakers could have given us more of Jerry Goldsmith’s original theme. Guy Ritchie wanted to avoid that, but a few notes of the original theme were sneaked into the film.

Some original fans complain about Hugh Grant’s Waverly. They cite how much younger Grant was compared with Leo G. Carroll’s Waverly. The thing is, the original Waverly was very manipulative, a trait that Grant’s Waverly had.

One footnote: The 2015 movie worked in one of Ian Fleming’s ideas from October 1962 (namely that Solo liked to cook). So there’s that.

In any event, I personally was surprised by the amount of social media chatter about the fifth anniversary of the movie.

Do I think there will ever be a sequel? I doubt it. I’ll take what I can get, though.

4 Responses

  1. I enjoyed the movie very much and watch it on blu-ray when ever I can.

  2. Sorry, didn’t like it at all. Utterly boring. If it hadn’t been called “UNCLE” you would never know it had anything in common with our series. They blew their one chance to honor the series.

  3. I’m in the “hate it” group for precisely the reasons that you cite. I liked Solo, Kuryakin & Waverly well enough, but the organization was the most important aspect of the original and, frankly, what set it apart from James Bond and the rest of the glut of espionage fiction. The global organization is what made the show unique.

  4. Interesting anniversary retrospective, much appreciated. I think of the 2015 Movie as another entry into the MFU universe. It would’ve been cool if the movie captured the 60’s context (spirit (& atmosphere). But wouldn’t have connected with contemporary fans. Only saw the movie one time. What I missed most was the lack of authentic chemistry. In (personally) making MFU fan videos now, it dawned on me (finally) where they back-story of Kuryakin’s psychotic tendencies (which shocked me in the movie) originated. It came from an A-Team’s episode, showing Kuryakin’s ruthless tendency (supposedly being a double agent at that point in time). But you know what, it’s still it’s an interesting stretch of personality. Characters need to evolve to expand their authenticity. Everybody evolves one way or another. Waverly is another example. Manipulative is an interesting take. To me he seemed more of a father figure-head to two evolving agents in terms of needing to acquire experience and emotional awareness (wisdom). Sort of “learn from my experience” advice offered, Waverly having been (perhaps) a younger version of Solo. In that role he represented (to me) more of a power figure, confident, upholding the best interests of UNCLE even over his agents. And trying to instill that principle in them as well! Leo G. Carroll owned that role, although Patrick Macnee was pretty cool as the successor in the 1986 TV movie. Especially with that international flair. IMO (not lifetime) I think there will once again be a look back at the golden age of TV with another attempt on these classics.

    Thank you for focusing on the Man from UNCLE! Well done! And always appreciated!!

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