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

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Movie Poster Image
Slick and stylized, retro spy adventure is loads of fun.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 116 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 19 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The main characters eventually put teamwork and collaboration above selfish interests. Movie also stresses that just because you have a reputation for being a certain way doesn't mean you can't surprise others (and yourself) by behaving very differently.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both spies are super smart, skilled men with basically perfect physical instincts, but they aren't necessarily positive role models. They're spies who must follow orders. But they do forge a bond that's unexpected and based on mutual trust and camaraderie. Many women are presented like eye candy in the movie, but Gaby's character is just as important as the two male leads; she's smart and capable and an expert mechanic.

Violence

Fist fights, brawls, shoot outs, and execution-style murders, but nothing gets particularly gory. A man is electrocuted in a torture chamber, but it happens in the background; viewers see smoke and fire, not the actual death. Same for when a truck lands on a boat -- the death of those on board is implied, but there are no close-ups of dead bodies. There are shots of dead bodies in the film, but they're brief and not bloody.

Sex

Plenty of innuendoes/references to sex ("all turned on now," "I gave it all I've got," etc.). Napoleon is a serial womanizer (it's even in his file), and he sleeps with at least two women in the movie. The first encounter is shown after the fact; a woman wearing lacy, see-through underpants (and no top) walks away from him. In the second, there's kissing and moaning, but the sex (and even kissing) is off camera (although the floor shakes beneath them). Illya and Gaby pretend to be engaged and must sleep in the same hotel. They dance, rough-house, wrestle, and look at each other longingly -- but they stop short of kissing. One memorable "top" and "bottom" joke will likely go over most audiences' heads.

Language

Language includes "p---y," "idiot," "balls," and "hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink and smoke cigarettes in several scenes -- usually at parties, but in one sequence a woman drinks straight from a bottle and acts drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a slick adaptation of the '60s TV spy drama about Russian and American secret agents who must team up to save both nations from a nuclear threat. Directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) and Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger), the movie should appeal to teens and fans of quick, stylized action films. There are scenes of violence, fighting, torture, and execution-style murders, but the worst moments are usually handled off-camera -- as is the sex, which is referenced and hinted at, but not shown (although a topless woman wearing sheer underwear is shown from behind). Characters do banter in loaded/teasing ways, as well as drink and smoke (accurate for the era). The language is fairly mild for a Ritchie film ("p---y" is the strongest word), and, despite the now-dated depiction of women in the original show, the main female character in the movie is integral to the plot -- and pretty fearless.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMediaMom2 September 5, 2015

Surprising! ~Spoiler Alert Intact~

This film will especially appeal to older teens who enjoy stylish retro visuals and throwback themes still loosely relevant in today's global political con... Continue reading
Adult Written byIanWilli August 26, 2015

Funny spy movie, great flick

The Man From Uncle is a almost perfect movie, but a lot of inappropriate sayings and a inappropriate scene. There is violence, but nothing to bad, the worst par... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old August 12, 2015

Pretty good, but a bit disappointing

The trailer showed us this amazing spy movie, almost like a new Bond. The first scene is no doubt excellent, but other than that, there are only a couple of oth... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old August 14, 2015

Pretty Good

This was pretty good. There was not a lot of action but it also had a fun and exciting story. It was really good to look at. Most kids my age would not really u... Continue reading

What's the story?

An adaptation of the hit '60s TV series, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. follows two very different spies who end up forced to work together for the global good. In the Cold War climate of the early 1960s, suave American spy Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is sent on a mission to transport East German mechanic Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) over the Berlin Wall to West Germany. Hot on their heels is huge Russian spy Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), who seems to posses superhuman focus and strength. Soon after the rescue, Napoleon and Illya are assigned to work in an unprecedented collaboration: They must use Gaby to infiltrate an Italian shipping company that's thought to be keeping her father, a famous German physicist, hostage in order to build a nuclear bomb. The trio heads to Italy on their mission, but the men continue to distrust and compete with each other.

Is it any good?

Writer-director Guy Ritchie knows how to entertain, and here he tones down his signature rapid-fire editing and convoluted plots for a fun, straightforward thriller. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. revels in its setting and the Mod eyecandy of its stars; although Illya calls Napoleon "Cowboy," Cavill -- who's ridiculously dapper as the suave American spy -- is more of an old-school-Bond-meets-Thomas-Crown-like character, with bespoke suits and perfectly coiffed, well, everything. Audiences may start to wonder when he'll slip into his native English accent, because a "Cowboy" he is not. But it doesn't matter, because Cavill is a distractingly attractive smooth operator. Hammer, on the other hand, must play the "heavy," a psychologically fragile, strapping work of Soviet precision who has trouble keeping his temper in check -- particularly when he feels humiliated.

For all of the beautiful women in the movie -- and Napoleon's reputation as a womanizer -- there's not a Bond-level of romantic tension in the movie. Vikander and Hammer keep their sparks simmering on low, and it's really the two men who banter and tease. At least Vikander's Gaby isn't just a pretty accessory; her character (a gearhead) is just as valuable as the men, even if she's not in as many of the high-octane action sequences. With its elegant cinematography and editing, fabulous soundtrack (Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, Solomon Burke), and gorgeous costumes, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is amusing popcorn fare that's fun, if not particularly filling.

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Is it realistic or stylized? When is it used humorously, and when is it serious? Does the editing and the use of background violence lighten the impact of the violence? Is it OK to let kids see some kinds of media violence and not others?

  • How are women portrayed in the movie? Are they just decorative accessories, or are they central to the plot? How does that depiction compare to the way women were portrayed in spy movies and shows actually made in the '60s and '70s?

  • Discuss the way that the literary device of opposites/foils is used in the story. How are Illya and Napoleon different? Why are partnerships like theirs so compelling? Name some other famous partners who are opposites.

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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