A new film based on the 1960s TV spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., directed by Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Revolver, Sherlock Holmes, etc.) has been scheduled for a U.S. release date of January 16, 2015. The film version of the Cold War spy series featuring two agents, one American and one Russian, will star Henry Cavill (Man of Steel), Armie Hammer (The Social Network, The Lone Ranger), and Alicia Vikander. Cavill will portray Solo, with Hammer teaming up with him as Ilya Kuryakin.
Originally developed in cooperation with James Bond author Ian Fleming, the U.N.C.L.E. TV series alluded to locales and situations in the news during its mid-’60s heyday, but it mainly steered clear of Cold War politics, pitting an international police organization against an international crime syndicate called THRUSH.
The series focused on fantastic, implausible adventures, exotic locales, and broad characters, something of a miniaturization of the James Bond films which were so popular at the time (and have remained so since then). After its first year, the show-makers injected increasing amounts of humor, much of it unduly clumsy, into the show, and it lost its way after a couple more years, ending in 1968. Ritchie’s penchant for the combination of fast action, frequent outbursts of violence, and zany humor would seem about right for a modern film version of the show.
The Solo and Kuryakin of the TV series were, at least as initially presented, courageous and intrepid and more than willing to use their fists (and martial arts, then emerging into the American culture as a new trend) as needed, but they weren’t physically imposing, relying more on brains than brawn (as the use of martial arts suggests), and both emulated the suaveness of James Bond the best they could. Cavill and Hammer, by contrast, are much taller (just under 6’1″ and 6’5″, respectively) than their ’60s predecessors, which may suggest that the film will have more than its fair share of action scenes, per Ritchie’s Holmes adaptations and his other films.
As to suaveness, that is something that has not been a prominent element of Ritchie’s films, to say the least, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.