Let's Talk About 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'s Ending

by Dino-Ray Ramos

Through the sartorial panache of bespoke suits and the charm of the swinging '60s trapeze dresses, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is probably the most stylish spy movie of the summer — and possibly of all time. Based on the popular 1960s TV show, the movie is set during the Cold War and the U.S. and Russia are forced to put their differences aside and team up to take down a mysterious criminal organization hellbent on world destruction. In other words, it's your basic international spy vs. global supervillain story. The series ran for 105 episodes between 1964 and 1968, so it only makes sense that the ending of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. hints that the adventures of CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are far from over.

Some background: directed by Guy Ritchie, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is not only a spy movie. It's a riff on the run-of-the-mill buddy cop movie. Kuryakin is uptight, but he's a different take on the straight-laced, by-the-book character. He is dedicated to his role as a KGB agent — and has a very bad temper. And as put together as Solo looks, he's the wild card. He has a criminal history of being a rebel and is more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants guy who relies on improvisation and gut instinct. They are the ultimate odd couple of spies, which makes for an explosive ending (spoilers ahead).

The entire movie focuses on Solo and Kuryakin keeping Gaby (Alicia Vikander), a mechanic, safe. She's "the prize" that will lead the duo to her estranged father, Dr. Udo Teller (Christian Berkel), a rocket scientist that once worked for Hitler but is now working for Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki), an ice-cold and ruthless mastermind of evil. She is using Teller, as well as Gaby's Nazi-loving Uncle Rudi (Sylvester Groth) to make atomic bombs so that she can sell them. The plans for the bomb are what the U.S. and Russia are after. And that's why Solo and Kuryakin are working together to use Gaby as "bait" to lead them to Victoria and end it all. At the same time, Solo and Kuryakin are instructed to do anything they need to do to retrieve those plans — even if it means killing their partner at the end of the mission.

They reach the point where Gaby has an "in" with Victoria and her team who are building a nuclear bomb. Unfortunately, Gaby betrays Solo and Kuryakin and blows their cover. She's been a double agent the whole time!

But wait...things get better.

Solo gets drugged and captured after paying a visit to Victoria, who he's been "bonding" with, if you know what I mean. Victoria puts him in the hands of Uncle Rudi, who has an affinity for torturing people to death. Just when he is about to do some major damage, Kuryakin rescues Solo and they go on a wild chase to rescue Gaby, who wasn't a double agent after all! (I know, there are so many twists here.) She purposely did what she did because she is an agent thrown into this mess by Waverly (Hugh Grant), the head of British Naval Intelligence who ends up being the big boss man (more on that later).

The team rescues Gaby and get their hands on what they think is the nuclear bomb that Victoria built — but it isn't! (Yes, another twist!) It's a decoy that Victoria planted, but in the end, Solo, Kuryakin and the team figure out a way to turn Victoria's weapons against her while she's on a yacht. In other words, they launch a missile and blow up her boat. The nuclear warhead is safe and the bad guy is gone. The end...right? Not quite.

The plans for making the nuclear weapons capable of destroying the world still exist on a computer disk — and Solo managed to get his hands on it throughout all the commotion. In one of the final scenes of the movie, Kuryakin sees that he has taken the disk and there is about to be a final standoff between the two so that each of them can complete the mission. Just when they are about to kill each other, Solo tosses Kuryakin his grandfather's watch that he lost earlier in the battle. It's a peace offering.

The final scene has Solo and Kuryakin sharing a drink while the plans for the nuclear weapons burn in an ashtray. Gaby comes in with Waverly and he says that their job is not done yet. They have another mission to embark on. Turns out, Waverly has been appointed their boss and the three of them are a new team who he names U.N.C.L.E., which stands for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.

Turns out that this movie was a very subtle beginning of a spy franchise destined for a sequel.

Image: Daniel Smith/Warner Bros. (3)