There might not be the metallic blue two-seater Piranha sports car used by the U.N.C.L.E agents, the cigarette-pack transmitter or the coat hook used in U.N.C.L.E. to open a secret passageway, but British director Guy Ritchie is still a fanboy at heart when it comes to the classic spy movie genre.
His big screen version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV series features a trail of easter eggs as a homage to all things espionage and beyond. And he’s also managed to include his good friend David Beckham in the movie.
We’ll try not to spoil things, but you have to be extra quick to catch Beckham, who plays a bungling projectionist in the movie. It’s a blink-and-it’s-gone scene. So pay attention.
Of course, you can’t have a movie like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. without paying tribute to the modified Walther P.38 handgun that could be turned into a carbine by screwing on a longer barrel, a scope, and skeleton stock.
Just like a regular Illya Kuryakin, Armie Hammer looks KGB-cool as he picks up this classic weapon, which was a best-selling toy gun for a whole generation of children in the mid 1960s.
Henry Cavill, who plays Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo role, isn’t all peacock strutting with sharp suits and dandy shoes. He can be seen riding a Vespa scooter in a black action-packed outfit, including a zippered bomber jacket, which Vaughn used to wear in the original TV episodes.
What’s a spy film without cool vehicles?
For a touch of Bond in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Ritchie picked a vintage spy vehicle with added sass. Pussy Galore’s 1960 Hiller UH-12E4 helicopter from the Bond film Goldfinger certainly makes an impression in Ritchie’s film. It works as a throwback highlight to the 1960s super spy days.
Hammer also catches the eye once again as he straddles a mean machine in the movie. Model of the beast? It’s called the Metisse Desert Racer and it’s an exact reproduction of the bike that legendary stuntman Bud Ekins and actor Steve McQueen built together for competition use in the 1960s.
Elsewhere, the character Sanders (Jared Harris) is Ritchie’s tribute to British actor George Sanders, who played Simon Templar (aka The Saint) in The Saint crime film series in the late 1930s. Interestingly, Sanders also appeared in two episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV series in 1965.
Music is also a big thing in any Ritchie movie and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is loaded with classic soul, funk and European pop delights.
The movie is bookended by Roberta Flack’s Compared To What and Nina Simone’s Take Care Of Business, while Louis Prima, Tom Ze, Solomon Burke, Rita Pavone and Ennio Morricone are just some of the names to give this movie its flirty groove.
Did the popular The Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV series theme make the grade? You either liked Jerry Goldsmith’s original, or Lalo Schifrin’s funked up version. Unfortunately, neither makes the movie, but Ritchie being Ritchie did get Hugo Montenegro’s twang-some orchestral pops version of the TV theme in the movie soundtrack.
Clearly, Ritchie is a director willing to shoot sideways to refresh this 1960s spy franchise.