Warner Bros. Pictures released the 60s spy/action movie The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in the dead of summer – August 14 to be exact. Coming after a summer of loud, effects-filled blockbusters, and the earlier action/spy movie Kingsman, it had a lot to live up to and the late summer release wasn’t very helpful.
Also probably not helpful for audiences coming off of a summer buzz of Jurassic World, Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron was the mostly unknown quantity of the reboot of the classic TV series from the late 1960s and that very specific 60s period setting. With mostly positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, not to mention our own rave right here, the film sunk like a rock at the box office. Not even the star power of Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and director Guy Ritchie could drag audiences to the theater. I’m of the mind that had Warner Bros. waited to release the film in mid-September, it would have done much better.
As it is, you can go back and read our review of the film but we still stand by our assessment that it is a clever, rip-roaring good time, with spot-on period detail, a terrific musical score evoking the era, and some stylish direction from Ritchie, not to mention a great cast who all perfectly fit the era of the film. If you missed it on the big screen, now is the time to check it out on the small screen with the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release of The Man From U.N.CL.E. on Blu-ray and DVD (a Blu-ray combo pack was generously provided by WBHE for this review).
The film itself looks and sounds stunning on Blu-ray. The 1080p video encode is well balanced, reflecting the various color schemes of the film (from the bland greys for the East Berlin sequences to the brighter colors of the Italian scenes) with nicely deep blacks for all of the nighttime scenes. Detail is sharp, skin tones are natural, and there is nothing to complain about in the way of video artifacts or noise. The image even has a soft grain to it to give it a real film-like look even though this is the first Guy Ritchie film to be shot completely digitally.
The Blu-ray comes with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack with a core Dolby True HD 7.1 mix. The 7.1 mix is outstanding, keeping the dialog crisp and clear right in the center, always easy to understand even with the various accents of the characters. Ritchie plays with this sound design, including some scenes that have no dialog at all (just stylized subtitles) but are enhanced by the use of music, which envelops the viewer with the surrounds. One scene featuring two characters in a car has no audible dialog, just subtitles, until a window is rolled down. A great use of sound and the absence of sound for this movie.
The Blu-ray contains a number of extras, although none of them reach the ten minute mark. Short as they may be, they are crammed with interesting information.
- Spy Vision: Recreating 60’s Cool (8:34) – Cast and crew look at the process of creating the fashions of the 60s era, the attention to detail in the production design and actually building cars that looked like they have been driven.
- A Higher Class of Hero (7:13) – A behind-the-scenes look at Guy Ritchie un-choreographing a fight scene, and how they achieved some of the action scenes including the Berlin car chase, which very often put the actors in the vehicles while the stunts were performed, both on set and against green screen.
- Métisse Motorcycles: Proper – And Very British (4:49) – Armie Hammer visits the Métisse company which built the motorcycle he rides in the movie to see how they built his and have been building custom bikes for decades.
- The Guys from U.N.C.L.E. (4:57) – A short featurette singing the praises of Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, who were both more than happy to do the bulk of their own stunts.
- A Man of Extraordinary Talents (3:16) – Cast talks about Guy Ritchie’s filmmaking style, including his affinity for chess and guitar playing between set-ups.
- UNCLE: On-Set Spy (5:16) – Short on-set segments including “Don’t Swim Elegantly,” “You Want to Wrestle?”, “Heli Restored” and “A Family Thing.” Interesting fact: The helicopter used in the film was the same one Honor Blackman piloted in Goldfinger.
Also included on the Blu-ray is the trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. cost Warner Bros. about $75 million to make (and that doesn’t include the promotional budget) but only brought in $105 million worldwide, making the prospects of a sequel pretty dismal. The film was definitely set up as the first in a series since the concept of U.N.C.L.E. isn’t even introduced until the film’s final seconds. Here’s hoping fans of Ritchie, Cavill, Hammer and spy movies in general will discover the movie on home video and give the studio something to think about as far as a series is concerned.