Guy Ritchie takes a shot at the Cold War in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – a big screen version of the ‘60s series of the same name.
Robert Vaughn and David McAllum starred in the series, which ran from 1964 to 1968, but in the new movie it’s Henry Cavill, and Armie Hammer, who take center stage.
Even though the story takes place more than fifty years ago, it bears some chilling comparisons with today’s landscape which, as know all to well, is ridden with terrorist organizations and rogue states bent on acquiring and / or constructing weapons of mass destruction.
In Ritchie and Lionel Wigram’s screenplay, one of Hitler’s former scientists – with the help of some former Nazis – is constructing a nuclear bomb.
To prevent a catastrophe, Cold War rivals, Napoleon Solo (Cavill) – a CIA agent – and Ilya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), a heavy duty KGB operative, combine forces to track down the group. But their only hope is Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), the scientist’s daughter, who is the key to infiltrating the organization.
“What we found so irresistible,” says Ritchie, “was taking these polar-opposite agents and forcing them together so that they start out trying to annihilate each other and end up cooperating, but maybe still not entirely trusting each other.”
Ritchie says the story is largely about the evolution of their collaboration.
“The fact that one represents capitalist America and the other represents communist Russia, and these two super powers have to team up to neutralize a threat with global stakes, is a great premise that you can have a lot of fun with. That’s the spine of our story.”
The film opens in 1963 – a time when the United States and Soviet Union are locked in a fierce race for nuclear supremacy and space exploration. A massive 12 foot wall divides Berlin, and tension between two countries is at an all time high.
“It’s a tip of the hat to the series. We wanted to capture the essence and uniqueness of that time while making it immediately accessible to today’s audiences, and as original, attractive and fresh as possible.”
Ritchie, who co-wrote the screenplay alongside Lionel Wigram, says it was the series tone – namely 1960s art, music and fashion – which prompted him to make the movie.
“The idea of ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ just rang a bell for me. I had an intuitive response to it.”
It is, according to the filmmaker, also about mixing up the moods, and creating a combination of emotions.
“I’m looking for the whole gamut of emotions. We start off writing more serious scenes, but what often happens on the day of filming is that the scenes start not taking themselves quite so seriously and the humor invariably finds its way in.”
Ritchie is quick to praise his cast, and says the entire ensemble has a great chemistry on and off the screen.
“Filming is collaboration and I want actors to own what they say. Granted, a director has the advantage of seeing the bigger picture and the actors have to trust that, but I’m always interested in the best idea in the room. As long as it doesn’t hold us back, and it seldom does, I’m up for everyone being creative.”
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris and Hugh Grant
Screenwriters: Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram (Story by Jeff Kleeman & David Campbell Wilson and Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram). Based on the television series “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”
Producers: John Davis, Steve Clark-Hall, Lionel Wigram and Guy Ritchie
Executive Producers: Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo, Stan Lee, Brad Winderbaum and David J. Grant
Image Info: Photo Credit: Daniel Smith Caption: (L-r) HENRY CAVILL as Solo and ARMIE HAMMER as Illya in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Quote Source: Warner Bros. Press Notes