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Download The Return Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
“Shaken, but not stirred.”
These are the words spoken by George Lazenby, after he has used the rocket launchers on the front of his silver car (license plate JB) to save Robert Vaughn from some pursuing bad guys. I think Lazenby is actually playing James Bond in the film, but it’s almost entirely impossible to understand his brief cameo. Lazenby, of course, played Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service … in 1969. At the time of The Return Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., 1983, Timothy Dalton was Bond. However, when the TV show The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was on TV, Lazenby was Bond. I think that I am thinking about this far too much.
The TV movie The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. – The Fifteen Years Later Affair came out in 1983, fifteen years after the TV series had ended. The film re-teams Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as the super-spies who work for this espionage organization, U.N.C.L.E. The film comes to DVD on March 3rd from Paramount Home Entertainment. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether Lazenby is supposed to be Bond or not, because clearly Robert Vaughn, (although his character’s name is Napoleon Solo), is supposed to be James Bond. He is introduced while playing poker against some foreign bad guy, and then introduces himself to a smoking hot woman as “Solo. Napoleon Solo.”
From the beginning, I got the feeling that The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. It really is a James Bond movie, with all kinds of gadgets that are introduced at the beginning that don’t come in handy until the very end. Then there are the villains who have a nuclear bomb and a plan to extort $350 million dollars from the American government, and the spies need to disarm the bomb and catch the bad guys to save the world. The men from U.N.C.L.E. do battle with the bad guys from the equally-cryptic bad-guy agency T.H.R.U.S.H. The evil genius behind T.H.R.U.S.H. has escaped from prison after fifteen years, and so the old agents who know him are called back into active duty.
Those agents are Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum), who I guess were the stars of the original series. I have never seen the original series, so I can’t compare the TV movie to the show. But I suspect the show was rather boring, simply because the stars are fairly boring. So are the bad guys. No one here has the personality of a Bond villain or a Bond hero, and yet they are doing a Bond movie. In fact, ironically, the only person who is actually interesting in this film is George Lazenby, in his bizarre thirty-second cameo. Robert Vaughn, while he is a decent actor, is a fairly bland super-agent, and his character has an irritating propensity to narrate the exact goings-on so we can follow the plot.
And the plot is alarmingly, boringly simple. The bad guys have a nuclear bomb. The good guys spy on them. The bad guys kidnap a kid to help them detonate the bomb. Then they leave the good guys, a la Bond villain, tied up below the bomb and assume that they will die in the explosion. There is a big shootout at the T.H.R.U.S.H. headquarters between the good guys (blue jumpsuits) and the bad guys (orange jumpsuits). The clothing is very convenient here. And although there is a serious dilemma at the end – should Ilya Kuryakin allow his nemesis to kill him, in order to save the world, or should he kill the bad guy, and allow the bomb to explode – it apparently is not much of a heart-wrenching decision for him.
Of course, he should kill the bad guy, who is the only person capable of disarming the bomb. That way, the bad guy is dead, and it sets up a big red-wire-or-blue-wire scenario where the world has a 50-50 chance of surviving. I guess Kuryakin was fully aware that he was in a made-for-TV movie that would end happily, and so he could afford to have no qualms about killing his nemesis. How silly. That’s the way to describe this reasonably entertaining DVD. How silly.