What Will 'Man From U.N.C.L.E. 2' Be About? The Reboot Leaves Just Enough To The Imagination
If there were any doubts going into The Man From U.N.C.L.E. as to whether the studio powers that be planned for a sequel, they've likely been dispelled with the film's release. Without giving much of anything away, Alicia Vikander, Armie Hammer, and Henry Cavill will undoubtedly return as a new super spy group codenamed U.N.C.L.E. At the end of the film (spoilers ahead!) Waverly (Hugh Grant), the British secret service agent who is also Vikander's handler, declares that the group, having successfully completed their mission to disarm a nuclear device in the hands of Italian neo-Nazis, has but an hour to pack their bags and head to Istanbul for their next mission. So it's easy to imagine that continuing in a follow-up — but otherwise, what will happen in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. 2 ?
At the end of the movie, Wavery tells the group that they have a new codename, and "it's quite a good one — U.N.C.L.E." The new film is something of a prequel to the '60s television series, providing origin stories for its characters and explaining how an American and a Soviet on opposite sides of the Iron Curtain came to be on the same team. It also introduces Vikander as Gaby, a character who doesn't feature in the original series, as a sort of third agent (untrained as she may be — the daughter of an astrophysicist and a mechanic by trade, she proves her worth as a spy in the first 10 minutes of the film).
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is great fun. It's visually stunning (with an astonishingly good-looking cast — did they really make spies like that?) and humorously stylized, and if the next film keeps pace, it will definitely be a franchise to watch. Here are some attention-grabbing moments I hope will be reprised, and improved, in the sequel.
More Beautiful Odes To A City's History
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. highlights some of the most gorgeous spots in Rome, including the Spanish Steps (whose origins Hammer's character Illya Kuryakin attempts to explain to Gaby, quite unsuccessfully). If the hints at the end of the film that the next mission will be located in Istanbul come to fruition, I have my fingers crossed for some aerials of the Hagia Sofia and Topkapi Palace.
More Sexual Tension
What if Illya really had kissed Gaby in that closing scene, instead of being interrupted by an untimely phone call? The screenwriters will probably prolong this story arc, because nothing's better than anticipation.
And Maybe A Love Triangle
I see you, Henry Cavill. At the beginning of the film, Gaby facilitates Solo's escape — intact, having avoided the meat-grinder fists of his Soviet counterpart — with some bad-ass pedal-to-the-floor driving. He's clearly impressed by this unassuming young woman from the wrong side of Berlin (her family has a murky history of collaborating with the Nazis), though it's Kuryakin who claims her as his fiancée when they go undercover in Rome. She's unimpressed at first, but soon warms to him.
More Incredible ’60s Fashion
In one of the most unexpected scenes in the film, Kuryakin and Solo argue over how a young Soviet woman might dress when permitted to accompany her husband out of the USSR. There's much distress over a particular Dior belt. (Where did their fashion knowledge come from, I wonder? Both are impeccably dressed, but skill in menswear doesn't necessarily translate to women's fashion.) In any case, it leads to an enviably well-outfitted Gaby, whose silver sandals and mod earrings must have been the envy of Rome.
More Villains You Love To Hate
It's one thing to hate a villain for his or her pure evil — it's another entirely when that villain has the will of the Nazi empire behind him. Gaby's uncle, believing Kuryakin to be her fiancé, makes an off-hand comment about polluting the bloodline, the kind of remark that makes any viewer's blood curdle. He's chilling as the "Butcher of Belsen," and his abrupt downfall when his own torture device malfunctions seems a fitting end for the neo-Nazi legacy.
More Hugh Grant
A disclaimer: I've never seen the original Man From U.N.C.L.E. series. The name "Waverly" didn't mean much when he first checks into the hotel where Solo, Kuryakin, and Gaby are also lodged, nor did it make much of an impression when again, at the racetrack, he bumps into Solo (permitting the latter to steal his invitation to a swanky party). It took me even longer to realize that Waverly is none other than Hugh Grant, almost unrecognizable in debonair suits and thick-lensed glasses. The U.N.C.L.E. operation's handler will almost certainly get more screen time in a sequel.
At the end of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., just before the end credits roll, a few frames pop up describing each of the agents' skills, special talents, and backgrounds. By saving this for the end, the filmmakers prove they're gunning for a sequel.
Images: Warner Bros. Pictures (7)