The Man from UNCLE Review


Let’s start out this review by saying I am not a Guy Ritchie fan. Why? Well, simply put I don’t like the way he directs action in a movie.  I hated the way he turned Sherlock Holmes into a bullet dodging, explosion jumping action hero in his Sherlock Holmes movies and I really didn’t like the action in his latest film The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  He uses lots of shaky cam, whip pans, split screens (sometimes 5 or 6 splits) and jerky cuts with extreme closeups like on someone’s eye or cheek in the middle of an action scene! All of that I hate.

That said, I liked The Man from UNCLE.  It’s not going to be a favorite of mine but it almost worked in spite of Guy Ritchie not because of him.  Ignoring the action, I had a fun time with the movie.

The Man from UNCLE is based on a British TV show from the 60s that evidently was an homage to 007 and James Bond style films.  Henry Cavill rescues this movie with tons of charisma and charm as secret agent Napoleon Solo. He reminded me of Cary Grant or Clark Gable.  That old movie star kind of persona you need for this kind of part.

guy ritchie set in rome with henry cavillHe has good chemistry with Armie Hammer who cheesy Russian accent and all he makes it work as agent Illya Kuryakin.


The two must work together with Alicia Vikander (who overnight is in every movie and is always great) to get her father’s computer disk for a nuclear weapon from an Italian crime donnette played by Elizabeth Debicki (who makes an icy vileness.) It is kind of funny in this movie you have a Brit playing an American.  An American playing a Russian.  A Swede playing a German and an Australian playing an Italian!  Oh well!

UNCLE7Hugh Grant also shows up in about 3 scenes and I wish we had gotten more of him.  If they do a sequel I hope they make him a bigger character.


The plot is pretty silly and a lot of realizations and twists don’t make sense but I didn’t mind that for this type of spy movie. It’s incredibly stylish with great clothes and pithy dialogue and one liners. That all worked.  The tone can be a little uneven at times and again I blame Guy Ritchie for that.  He stays in scenes too long to a point where it becomes uncomfortable.  For example, several scenes Armie Hammer’s character gets very angry and the scenes go on very long and it causes him to lose his bubbly charisma he has in other scenes.

It could have been easily 20 minutes shorter and been much better but I loved seeing the foreign settings especially Rome and the actors were generally very likable and entertaining that it worked for me.

UNCLE3This is the kind of movie if you see it is on cable give it a watch.  In fact, it might be better that way because the shaky cam and jerky editing of the action scenes works better on a small screen.  It at least is an action movie which doesn’t try to explain everything and just kind of moves from one set piece to another.  You get the feeling it is in on the joke and the camp factor of the film.

If you hated Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes like I did you will definitely see some of the same techniques and it is nauseating and annoying here too but at least suits the project a little bit better.  Plus, the plot doesn’t verge into the supernatural or other eye rolling escapes like in Holmes movies (and no slow motion dodging bullets that they must have done 30 times in the last SH movie).

Perhaps fans of the original show will be annoyed (I’m a massive Sherlock Holmes fan) by his style on their franchise, but as I had never heard of the show it didn’t bother me.  Over all, I had a good time watching this movie despite the terrible action and directing choices.

Overall Grade- C

As far as content it keeps the language to a minimum and the action is so choppy I don’t think it is very upsetting.  There is implied sex but nothing is shown and characters are shot and tortured for a fairly long sequence.

Content Grade- B

Testament of Youth Review

testament-of-youth-posterOn Monday nights I try to go to a movie and see something inspirational or family friendly because Monday nights are family night in my church.  So tonight I looked and saw Testament of Youth was playing.  It sounded inspirational and had good reviews so I figured ‘why not?’ and I went and saw it. I’m so glad I did!  This is a terrific movie.  One of the best of the year so far.

testament7Testament of Youth tells the story of Vera Brittain based off of her memoir.  It begins in 1914 and the start reminded me of Jane Campions wonderful movie Bright Star.  It is full of light and hope surrounding Vera, her brother Edward and 2 friends Roland and Victor.

testament2All the acting is excellent in the movie led by Alicia Vikander from Ex-Machina who reminded me of Natalie Portman.  I think she is going to be a huge star.  Kit Harrington plays Roland and the two bond over a shared love of writing, poetry in particular (another thing in common with Bright Star).

testament5Vera wants nothing more at the outset to go to Oxford and gain an education.  Her father is against it but eventually relents.  He could have been such a one note character but he is actually right about a lot in the movie and Dominic West is so good in every scene he is in.

Eventually all of their worlds are interrupted when World War 1 begins and the boys naively fight to enter the war and even be put in combat.

testament3However, we don’t get much of the actual battles.  Most of the time is spent with Vera as she works as a nurse first in England and then in the front lines in France.  These scenes are tough to take at times and it is amazing it got a PG-13 rating with all the blood we see (stupid MPAA).

testament4There is a leisurely pace to the film but I was really engaged by Vikander’s performance and her life story.  It’s not a movie with a strong plot or giant climax.  It has 3 climaxes kind of.  It’s just Vera’s life story and I was very moved by it.

I couldn’t help but think about World War 1 while watching it.  There’s a scene that seemed out of Gone with the Wind where they are surrounded by body after body trying to administer relief.  What was all this suffering for?  In World War 2 we all know there was true evil that was trying to conquer the world.  World War 1 was a diplomatic dispute that led to the assassination of an Archduke.  Was that worth all the suffering?

testament6The reason why I think we should have more movies about World War 1 is because most conflicts are muddled in their purpose like it. Very rarely do we have a Hitler to defeat and so Testament of Youth is a valuable film both for the history lesson but also how we repeat it again and again.

I’m sure some people will read this review and think ‘that sounds sad.  I don’t like sad movies’ but if you do I think you are really missing out.  You could actually learn something and want to make a difference?  Heaven forbid movies actually make us feel something more than a good time.

Here is the trailer:

I loved Testament of Youth.  It’s beautifully shot, well acted, moving and important film about a time in world history most of us don’t know near enough about.  I encourage all of you to hunt it out and see it.  I’m sure glad I did.  One of best of the year so far for sure.

Here’s my review on the youtube channel.  I was trying out a new lens so it is a little fuzzy but I did my best.