This site was meant to be for television only, but considering that it’s summer most of what I have been watching are movies. So I have decided to allow myself one day a week for movie analysis. We will start with a movie that has performed solidly well but did not blow away the box office: MAN FROM U.N.C.LE., directed by Guy Ritchie.
Real quick, let’s go over how features are structured. I referenced three act structure here, but I won’t be listing every individual beat the way I do with television scripts. Instead, I will go through the four points (Set Up, Action, Climax, Resolution) in each sequence. If there is not a Resolution provided, that means the end of that sequence is the same as the Set Up of the next sequence. Alright, here are the major players:
NAPOLEON SOLO – Henry Cavill
ILYA KURYAKIN – Armie Hammer
GABY TELLER – Alicia Vikander
VICTORIA VINCIGUERRA – Elizabeth Debicki
ALEXANDER VINCIGUERRA – Luca Calvani
SAUNDERS – Jared Harris
MR. WAVERLY – Hugh Grant
Setting: 1963, East Berlin, Rome
Set Up: Napoleon Solo, American Spy, and Ilya Kuryakin, KGB, have both been separately tasked with stopping the other from getting their hands on Gaby Teller.
Action: Solo arrives in East Berlin and tracks Gaby down. He finds a tracker that Ilya slipped into his bag. Solo convinces Gaby to go with him and they take off in the car she was working on while being chased by Ilya. Just as they think they can get away having shot out Ilya’s tires, Ilya runs after Gaby and Solo’s car, even able to grab onto the back before ripping off the trunk door.
Climax: They get to the top of an apartment building with Ilya close on their heels, and glide over the Berlin Wall and into a truck driven by Solo’s associates, narrowly escaping before Ilya catches them.
Resolution: Solo meets with his boss who tells him that the mission is not over and blackmails Solo about his sketchy side dealings outside of his government missions.
Set Up: Solo and Ilya report to the same location for their new mission and spot each other.
Action: The two get into a full fight in a public rest room.
Climax: They are forced to stop when their bosses tell them they are now partners.
Plot Push to 1st Act Decision
Set Up: Solo’s boss, Saunders, tells him and Ilya of the new mission to use Gaby to get to her father, a nuclear scientist being forced to build a new nuclear bomb for Victoria and Alexander Vinciguerra. They are to work together and go to Rome with Gaby, where they will contact her uncle who works with Victoria and Alexander. Ilya is to pose as an architect and Gaby’s fiancee, while Solo will pose as an architect and work on getting to know Victoria.
Action: The pair is left alone to get to know each other, but they reveal that they have both done their research and know the other’s history very well. They work to push each other’s buttons by passively insulting one another.
Climax: Solo pushes hard as he talks about Ilya’s history of psychotic breaks and Ilya almost loses control.
Resolution: Ilya calms himself just enough to be able to storm off. These two are going to have to work together, but they sure as hell aren’t going to like it.
Set Up: The pair go shopping for Gaby’s new wardrobe.
Action: They bicker over how to dress her. Gaby is upset that they can’t get along and worse, that she has to pose as Ilya’s fiancee.
Climax: Gaby storms out and Solo chases after her. He tells her that she doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to but the entire plan hangs on her cooperation. Unlike Ilya who just ignored what Gaby said, Solo gives her back some control and she agrees to help.
Resolution: Gaby returns and is given an engagement ring from Ilya. They say goodbye to Solo, they will see him in Rome.
Set Up: The trio arrive in Rome with the engaged couple pretending they do not see or know Solo. Solo spots a couple of men following Ilya and Gaby. While seeing the sights, Solo points this out to Ilya and says that the pair is trying to test Ilya. If Ilya runs into them he will have to pretend as though he has never had any KGB training at all and will have to play the part of the week intellectual.
Action: Ilya and Gaby continue their stroll and come across the pair who try to rob them, just as Solo predicted. Gaby tries to control the situation and keep Ilya calm.
Climax: Ilya allows the men to slap him and take his wallet. When they demand his watch he refuses. He has no choice but to give them the watch that belonged to his father. The pair is allowed to continue on their way, but Ilya makes a point to hit one of the men hard as they leave.
Resolution: Ilya is scolded for not calming down and almost blowing their cover.
Set Up: In an effort to relax, Ilya plays chess while Gaby starts drinking heavily. The two end up brawling before Gaby eventually passes out just after the two have a moment together. The next morning, Gaby prepares for the day completely hung over as they head out to a racing event the Vinciguerra’s are attending.
Action: Solo steals a ticket to a private party hosted by Victoria, while Gaby and Ilya head over to the race track to greet her uncle and introduce themselves to Alexander.
Climax: Ilya becomes enraged by a few insolent young men in the bathroom and beat them up. Gaby gains Alexander’s attention when she is able to fix his car while flirting. Solo gains Victoria’s favor when he sneaks into her party and flirts with her. He is introduced to a man named Waverly, the man whose ticket he stole earlier. She invites him to spend more time with her.
Resolution: Ilya demands that the he and Gaby leave.
Set Up: Back at the hotel, Ilya shows Solo the pictures he took at the race track. His special film shows if people have touched radioactive materials. The pictures of the Vinciguerra’s and Gaby’s uncle confirm their suspicions: the Vinciguerra’s have a bomb and have been near it recently, which implies they have it at their factory in Rome.
Action: Solo and Ilya sneak out separately to break into the factory where they run into each other and agree to follow through with their spying together. They discover a secret room and a vault, but are unable to find the bomb.
Climax: The alarms go off and the two are chased comically in and around the factory before finally escaping. Meanwhile, Victoria has been calling the hotel persistently looking for Solo. Sick of waiting, she heads over to the hotel herself.
Resolution: The pair arrive at the hotel just in time to see Victoria at the front desk. They race up the stairs to their rooms. Victoria reaches Solo’s room to find him having “just exited” the shower. The two spend the night together which Ilya is able to hear through the bugs he placed in Ilya’s room.
False Climax/Low Point
Set Up: Gaby heads out for her meeting with her uncle, while Ilya listens in just outside of the mansion grounds. Solo goes to meet with Victoria as well, believing to have won her over.
Action: Gaby tells her uncle and Alexander that her “fiancee” is a Russian spy, and Victoria is sleeping with an American spy. The uncle calls Victoria, who drugs Solo. Ilya hears everything through the bug in Gaby’s engagement ring. He takes off before they can catch him.
Climax: Solo wakes up and is tortured by the Uncle via electric chair. Victoria is there initially, but has to go so she can deal with Gaby. She takes Gaby to her father where they finish the bomb together.
Resolution: The bomb is ready, so Victoria shoots Gaby’s father and passes Gaby off to Alexander.
Pot Push to 3rd Act Decision
Set Up: Ilya rescues Solo from the electric chair and they accidentally kill Gaby’s uncle in the process.
Action: They meet with Waverly and each speak with their respective boss’s who tell them to get the data disc, even if it means kill their mission partner. They then learn that Gaby was only doing her job and is a spy for the British. They need to save. her.
Climax: With Solo in a jeep and Ilya on a motorcyle, they chase after and rescue Gaby. Solo spots the data disc and pockets it with Ilya believing it’s nowhere to be seen.
Set Up: They trio join Waverly again on a boat where they learn that while they have one of the bombs, it is not the active bomb. Victoria has gotten away with that one and they need to find it.
Action: Looking over files and pictures, Solo realizes he may know which boat it is and they reach out to that boat on the walkies and are able to goad Victoria into speak with them. Meanwhile, Ilya and Gaby work with the ship’s captain and the taken nuclear engineers to prepare the bomb they have to pair with Victoria’s bomb.
Climax: Solo keeps Victoria on the line long enough for them to find her signal and send the bomb. Victoria and her bomb go down with their ship.
Resolution: Everything is safe and they all return to their hotel in Rome.
Set Up: The mission has been won and Gaby is heading back to England with Waverly. She says goodbye to Ilya and they are interrupted just as they are about to kiss. Ilya gets a call that the data disc is in the possession of Solo. He needs to get the disc at any cost.
Action: Ilya goes to Solo’s room for a so long drink but really plans to get the disc. He spots the disc sticking out of Solo’s suitcase. Ilya’s anger issues begin to take over. Solo notices that Ilya is being very quiet.
Climax: Just as Ilya is about to pull his gun on Solo, Solo turns around with a gift for Ilya: his father’s watch. Ilya relents.
Resolution: The pair have their drink on the balcony, burning the data disc so that neither side can have it. Waverly joins with Gaby and tells them they have a new mission and the three will be working together from now on. They have a new code name as well: U.N.C.L.E.
I love this movie. This breakdown, much like all the others, takes all the fun and personality out of what was really a fun time. The movie had some issues in making the chemistry between Cavill and Hammer as strong as Guy Ritchie’s other adaption SHERLOCK HOLMES with Robert Down Jr. and Jude Law, but the fun action, amazing clothes, and Alicia Vikander being all kinds of awesome completely make up for all of this.