The Man From UNCLE (Blu-Ray)
The big screen adaptation of the Cold War spy TV series, The Man From UNCLE, is now available on blu-ray and after checking out the disc and all it offers, I’m here to help you decide whether or not it’s worth picking up. Come inside for my full review.
2015 has been littered with spy films, as the genre has seen an unexpected resurgence. Kingsman infused new life and ideas to genre, while Mission: Impossible proved that it still has legs with Rogue Nation, and of course James Bond made another return. Coming in at the tail end of the Summer season was Warner Bros. attempt to crack the spy thriller movie wide open, looking to the old television series for inspiration…
The film didn’t do so hot in theaters, despite pulling together a solid cast and director behind it. Garrett covered this pretty extensively in his initial review of the film, so I won’t tread too much new ground in my own review. The biggest problem with The Man From UNCLE, is how average it tends to be. It refuses to stray too far from the tropes associated with Spy films from the era in which the movie is set. Everything plays out much like you would expect.
The novelty of seeing US and Russian spies working together, despite their enmity, wears off quickly, and the last two acts of the film play out generically without any surprises. The mix of humor and action doesn’t work terribly well, and many of the attempts fell flat.
On the GOOD side of things, the action is up there with some of Guy Ritchie’s best. He’s a solid action director and while the film doesn’t go crazy over the top (more grounded), those scenes are thrilling and certainly enjoyable. Without anything to draw you in emotionally, however, the action is nothing more than dumb fun, making it hard to enjoy time and time again.
It’s a decent action flick, and it has its moments, but on the whole Man From UNCLE does little to add to the spy genre. Instead of putting a twist on old ideas and making something unique, it plays it safe, feeling like a relic from a bygone era, rather than the start of something new and fun. In a year that has seen some impressive spy movies, it’s a bummer to think that this classic series ends up with one of the more forgettable movies.
Sight and Sound
Visually speaking, Guy Ritchie does a pretty amazing job of giving the film that 60s feel to it, but it never once feels dated. It uses a diverse color palette to make that time period come alive and look as good as it ever has on the big screen. The blu-ray transfer makes all of this pop out and look gorgeous.
The blacks are deep, offering a nice contrast to the brighter colors in the frame. This is especially important when it comes to the darker infiltration style scenes where things are dark. There’s no big ‘crushing’ that I experienced, which made it easy to see everything going on in those darker moments without straining or having to adjust anything.
The sound design is immersive and wonderfully diverse. There are a bunch of things seemingly going on at the same time, and it’s very ‘active’, but never did it seem to be too much. The dialog is crisp and clear at all times, which is doubly important in this film as there are a variety of different accents going about.
Visually speaking, The Man From UNCLE is impressive to look at, and the sound design complements it well. Both of these aspects shine through wonderfully on the blu-ray, serving up a technical treat.
The Bonus Features
The Man From UNCLE comes packed with some special features on the disc:
Spy Vision: Recreating 60's Cool
A Higher Class of Hero
Métisse Motorcycles: Proper—and Very British
The Guys from U.N.C.L.E.
A Man of Extraordinary Talents
U.N.C.L.E.: On-Set Spy
Don't Swim Elegantly
You Want to Wrestle?
A Family Thing
The first couple of featurettes offer a nice behind the scenes look at how the filmmakers created the visuals I was just praising, as well as the action sequences that were so enjoyable. As such, those were pretty fun to watch and see how it all came together. The rest give more detailed looks at the director and crew, as well as some mini-features about the characters and certain moments in the film.
All of these are pretty standard, but what’s most surprising is the lack of any featurette that talks about the TV series on which the movie is based. It seems like an odd oversight and something that would have been of value to fans of the old show, while showing new audiences where it all started.
If you’re down with that style of action film, and don’t need much more, it’s easy to recommend the blu-ray based off of those merits. It DOES look gorgeous on the screen at home. However, I doubt I’ll watch it much more than once or twice.