In today's world of lackluster scripts circulating around Hollywood, the big push seems to be taking original ideas and creating prequel's to show the origins of how a given story began. They may be as well, because a lot of the sequels don't seem to work anyway.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is based on a 1964 through 1968 TV series about two top level spies (American and Russian) who join forces in order to prevent evil organizations from world domination. Now I'm not talking about aliens, I'm talking about the bad guys. What was so interesting about this premise of spies is that this show aired during what was known as the “Cold War” between Russia and the United States, so it was unheard of for them to join forces especially in the spy game.
Even the names of the organizations were incredibly powerful. U.N.C.L.E. stand's for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, whereas, the bad guys were known as T.H.R.U.S.H., which stands for Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and Subrogation of Humanity. How’s that for an evil organization’s title? I guess one of their tortures would have you say that 10 times fast and if you didn't… well, you know what would happen.
Looking back, you might not think that this TV show was important, but back in the ‘60s this really was a big deal. The first season was filmed in black-and-white and the following seasons were all in color. Many of today’s stars first appeared in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., including William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy in the same episode, prior to the creation of Star Trek. They started out very serious, but later the style was changed to “campy” (due to other shows, such as Batman, etc.), which plummeted the rating. Even though it reversed course, it couldn’t suffer the damage.
The series, though fictional, achieved such cultural prominence that props, costumes and documents, and a video clip are in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library's exhibit on spies and counterspies. Similar U.N.C.L.E. exhibits are in the museums of the Central Intelligence Agency and other U.S. agencies and organizations gathering intelligence. Now, how many other TV shows can garner that accolade?!
Director Guy Ritchie’s film version is the prequel of how these two competitive agents are paired together to stop an evil organization from proliferating nuclear weapons and destroying the world. In this version, Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is still the tall, dark, handsome, dapper and dashing lead character and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) is a tall, masculine, intelligent Russian agent, instead of the shorter, nerdy techie agent as portrayed in the old TV series by David McCallum (whom you all know as 'Ducky' on the hit TV series, NCIS).
There are a lot of fabulous and breathtaking location shots along with smart edited action scenes in this movie. The writing is witty, entertaining, realistic and amusing. The writers have penned in a great brother and sister villain team of Alexander (Luca Calvani) and Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki), who absolutely steals every scene she is in. Her character is sophisticated, elegant, charming and downright creepy.
I enjoyed the original Man from U.N.C.L.E. TV series and I can easily say that this movie is not a copy of any existing episode, because the organization U.N.C.L.E. doesn't even exist until the end of the movie. This movie is similar to that of the original James Bond movies, which would make sense, since it was Ian Fleming who created the character, Napoleon Solo.
I liked this movie. I was thoroughly entertained and enjoyed every minute of it. I was able to see it in IMAX and the cinematography was just incredible. It's a movie I will definitely watch again.
Note: If you’re interested in seeing the original TV series, along with other great shows from the ‘60s through ‘80s, you can find them on METV (Memorable Entertainment Television) channel 8.2 in Las Vegas.