The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Parent Guide
Obviously desiring to become yet another cinematic franchise, we can only hope a future sequel will find a better balance between comedy and action, or it may be forced to yell "uncle!"
Parent Movie Review
Based on a highly popular television show that ran for four years during the 1960s, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. drops us back into the Cold War. It was a time when secret agents were a mainstay of the political battleground—and the entertainment industry. Considering the frosty relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, U.N.C.L.E.‘s premise of having a U.S. and Soviet spy working together to fight and even bigger enemy was a groundbreaking idea.
The mission of the US agent, Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is to find Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), the daughter of a prominent nuclear physicist (Christian Berkel) who has been kidnapped by (or defected to) a mysterious organization. The fear is that the German scientist will share his knowledge about building an atom bomb. If Solo can get the daughter out of East Germany, he should then be able to connect with the father’s brother: Uncle Rudi (Sylvester Groth). A former Nazi, Rudi is now working for Alexander and Victoria Vinciguerra (Luca Calvani and Elizabeth Debicki), a power couple whose company is the front for the illegal weapon manufacturing. And it is the Vinciguerra’s who are likely harboring the all-important Dr. Teller.
But in Solo’s efforts to fulfill part one of the complicated plan (rescue the girl), he crosses paths with a KGB operative named Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). It isn’t until after their combative initial meeting that the two discover their respective governments have decided to pair them up. Now they are both on assignment to use Gaby to get to Rudi, who will lead them to Dr. Teller, so they can stop the bomb and his retrieve the scientist’s research notes, in order to save the world from the evil intents of their countries’ mutual foe.
The film spends what feels like an inordinate amount of time bringing the team together, and portraying Solo and Illya’s disgust for each other. Their incessant need to one-up the other generates much of the humor in this action/adventurer as they bicker over competing national interests and who has the best gadgets. In a scene where they need to cut through a chain link fence, Solo shows off a pair of cutters sharpened by an exotic laser with which he can cut through the links. Kuryakin then reveals he has the laser itself, in a pen-like version, and rapidly slices through the barrier. It’s a fun personification of Mad Magazine’s Spy vs. Spy.
However, mixing serious historical elements with comedy can be risky, and this script crosses the line when it presents a former Nazi “doctor” who is now employed to torture captives. With Solo strapped into his electric chair, he administers jolts of power while paging through a photo album of past atrocities he performed on innocent victims during the Hitler era. The distasteful sequence, along with its revengeful conclusion, is decidedly not funny.
Other content concerns include pervasive weapon use, aggressive hand-to-hand combat and onscreen shootings. And, like many other movies in this genre, handsome spies are seemingly expected to bed a few women—one of whom we see nearly naked from the rear and side. Fortunately profanities are relatively infrequent, with a mix of mild curses and some crude anatomical terms.
Perhaps the movie’s most positive attribute is its promotion of the notion that even enemies can work together for the greater good. It offers some interesting plot twists to keep viewers engaged too, although it lacks some inter-character chemistry (like that seen in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which was also directed by Guy Richie). Obviously desiring to become yet another cinematic franchise, we can only hope a future sequel will find a better balance between comedy and action, or else this concept may be forced to yell “uncle!”Directed by Guy Ritchie. Starring Henry Cavill, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant, Armie Hammer. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release August 14, 2015. Updated May 12, 2016
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Man from U.N.C.L.E. rated PG-13? The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for action violence, some suggestive content, and partial nudity.
Violence: This movie contains pervasive sequences of violence, including hand-to-hand combat, gun use, stabbing and explosions, along with frequent on-screen shootings. Although most of it is non-graphic, some depictions feature blood effects. A lengthy scene portrays a former Gestapo inflicting torture (electric shock and threats of other physical mutilation) on a victim while showing archival-looking pictures of people tortured during the holocaust era. Car and boat chases result in injury, near drowning, and property damage. Characters are in peril, as well as threatened with weapons and death. Characters are injured or killed, sometimes in a comedic context. Archival images of exploding atom bombs are shown. Threats of nuclear war and bombs are discussed. Spies use high-tech equipment to bug and track each other. Remarks are made about illegal behavior and embezzlement. Thefts, such as mugging, safecracking and pickpocketing, are depicted. Characters steal vehicles. Prison camps and gulags are mentioned. A woman smacks a man and then wrestles with him. A man is hit in the groin. Bullying and rough handling are mentioned.
Sexual Content: The script includes sexual innuendo and suggestive references. A man is shown from the back using a urinal. A drunken woman straddles a man. A man puts his hand under a woman’s skirt to adjust a tracking device. Sexual relations are implied with sexual sounds and morning-after scenes. A woman wearing only panties is seen from behind, and when she turns to look over her shoulder, the side of her naked breast is shown.
Language: Mild profanities and vulgar sexual terms are used infrequently.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters smoke infrequently. Drinking is frequently shown in social setting and in private. A character gets drunk and passes out. Liquor is spiked with drugs in order to subdue a character. A syringe full of an unknown drug is shown in a torture context.
Page last updated May 12, 2016
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Parents' Guide
Why were the nations of the world so concerned about each other’s weapons potential? Learn more about the Cold War that resulted from these worries. Do you think this battle is over?
How did television and movie scripts capitalize on the fears of the public during the Cold War? What current events does the media use today?
Solo’s boss, who is obviously struggling with the multi-national nature of his orders, says he tells himself, “Inside every kraut is an American waiting to get out”. What do you think he means? Why are we likely to see every issue from the perspective of our own nationality, rather than from the other’s point of view?
Does this movie try to show some equality between the various characters and the super powers the represent? Does one country still come off looking more like a hero than the other? Why or why not?
This movie is a remake of the 1964 -1968 TV series Man From U.N.C.L.E.
The most recent home video release of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie is November 17, 2015. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes:
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Release Date: 17 November 2015
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) with the following extras:
- Spy Vision: Recreating ‘60s Cool
- A Higher Class Of Hero
- Metisse 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
Related home video titles:
Guy Richie also directed Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. The James Bond franchise, which was making spy movies during the 1960s as well (see Dr. No), has received several remakes, including one in the new millennium starring Daniel Craig (Casino Royale).