The Man from U.N.C.L.E

 

Do you remember how the James Bond movies used to be?  A twinkle in the eye, tongue planted firmly in cheek. Keep calm at all times, even in perilous situationsÖ.especially in perilous situations.  Always have some good-looking young femme fatale around, whoís definitely eye candy, but sheís also spunky, and not without her own resources.  Flirt, yes, but nothing so lurid as actual consummation; as if the anticipation is more interesting.  Save the world?  Of course, but donít take yourself too seriously while doing it.  After all, style points always count, also.

Henry Cavill plays Napoleon Solo in this re-make of the 1960ís television series.  The United States and Russia were engaged in a Cold War that involved lots of mutual spying, and there were few circumstances where they would ever work together:  except here.  In a decidedly 21st-century twist, it seems some terrorists have gotten hold of a nuclear device, and intend to use it.  Solo is forced to work with his Russian counterpart, Illya (Armie Hammer), and also an East German whoís actually a British spy, Gaby (Alicia Vikander).  Heading up this tri-lateral effort is none other than Hugh Grant, who knows something about tongue-in-cheek insouciance, with all those romantic comedies of the 1990ís.  But here heís actually serious, especially about holding together this unlikely alliance of agents who donít know each other, donít trust each other, and are always eager to prove the superiority of their own training and background.  Yes, theyíre rivals even as they engage a common enemy, which Director/Writer Guy Ritchie uses to definite advantage in maintaining the relational tension even during all the breathtaking chase scenes.

Sure, the whole thing is kind of an homage, but itís not a farce, and though comedic, itís not superficial.  Altogether itís a fine blend of action/adventure with a real plot and engaging characters.  And best of all, itís not so violent or scatological that it earns the R rating; itís actually PG13.  A pleasant surprise for a late-summer popcorn flick.

 

Questions for Discussion:

1)      Are the Russians still the ones we need to be worrying about?

2)      What are the chances of rival spy agents actually working together against a common enemy like terrorists?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Supply Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Kaufman, Texas