Action Adaptation

'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' Blu-ray Review: Modern swagger meets vintage style

November 17, 2015Ben MK

If last year's Kingsman: The Secret Service was an homage to the 1960s-era adventures of Agent 007, then you can think of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as its cinematic cousin: a film that aims to reinvent the iconic Robert Vaughn/David McCallum television series by blending modern swagger with classic '60s style.

Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film stars Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer as Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, characters made famous by Vaughn and McCallum. Unlike the TV show, however, Solo and Kuryakin aren't agents of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement when we first meet them. Instead, they're top agents from the CIA and the KGB who find themselves at each other's throats when they're both sent after the same target: an East Berlin car mechanic named Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), whose scientist father has been kidnapped and is being forced to build an atomic bomb for an international crime syndicate.

An origin story, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. sees Solo and Kuryakin reluctantly teaming up and embarking on an undercover mission with Gaby to infiltrate the organization's Italian headquarters, where they must retrieve Gaby's father, as well as a computer disk holding his research. To do so, however, not only will they have to contend with a villainous Italian businessman named Alexander Vinciguerra (Luca Calvani), his cold-blooded wife, Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki), and their legion of henchmen; but they'll also have to learn to overcome their differences — which means trying not to kill each other along the way.

The result is stylish and sophisticated, with Ritchie ditching the slow-motion sequences of his Sherlock Holmes films in favor of set pieces that unfold via uptempo Italian music and slick, comic-book-style paneling. Story-wise, however, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. feels more routine. There's the expected clashing of personalities, as well as a few hints of romance between Kuryakin and Gaby, but not much that will surprise. Still, it all makes for an inoffensive — if not entertaining — remake, especially when you factor in Cavill and Hammer, whose pairing even gives the duo of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law a run for their money.

As with most Warner titles, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. debuts on Blu-ray boasting a strong, well-rounded technical presentation. Despite the film's relatively muted color palette, saturation levels appear quite pleasing; fine detail is evident in nearly every scene, highlighting the film's dapper production design and picturesque locales; and film grain is readily apparent, preserving the look of the movie's original theatrical presentation. As for the audio, the disc comes equipped with an energetic Dolby Atmos mix, which does a wonderful job recreating the film's active soundscape, from the swinging score, to the multinational dialogue, to the sounds of fistfights, gunfire and revving engines.

Warner's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes a DVD and an UltraViolet digital copy, along with the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Spy Vision: Recreating 60's Cool (8:34) - A look at the film's retro costume and production design, including the period vehicles and the characters' spy gadgetry.
  • A Higher Class of Hero (7:13) - A piece about the film's action and stunt work, especially the car chases.
  • Métisse Motorcycles: Proper — And Very British (4:49) - A featurette about the Métisse motorcycles featured in the film, in which Armie Hammer visits the Métisse motorcycle factory and gets a tour of the facility from owner Gerry Lisi.
  • The Guys from U.N.C.L.E. (4:57) - The filmmakers discuss the casting of Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, what they brought to their characters, and the stunt work that they did.
  • A Man of Extraordinary Talents (3:16) - The cast and crew talk about what it's like to work with director Guy Ritchie.
  • U.N.C.L.E.: On-Set Spy (5:16) - Behind-the-scenes footage detailing the making of several scenes ("Don't Swim Elegantly," "You Want to Wrestle?," "Heli Restored" and "A Family Thing").

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is available from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment as of November 17th, 2015. The Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. Subtitles are presented in English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 56 Mins.

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