Nov 16, 2010

Tradecraft: Steven Soderbergh In Talks To Direct The Man From U.N.C.L.E.!

Between The Informant! and the upcoming Haywire (formerly titled Knockout), Steven Soderbergh has gotten quite a taste of directing spy movies.  And, apparently, he likes it! According to The Hollywood Reporter's Heat Vision blog, the Ocean's 11 mastermind is "in early talks to take over directing duties on the long-in-development film The Man From U.N.C.L.E. at Warner Bros."  Soderbergh marks a return to the long history of indy auteurs attaching themselves to this looong-in-development film adaptation of the classic Sixties TV show.  At various times, both Quentin Tarantino and Matthew Vaughn have flirted with the material.  More recently, Wedding Crashers' David Dobkin (who, despite his indy origins, seemed like the odd man out in that line-up) was involved, briefly to direct and then as a producer.  Apparently, he's still attached to produce.  Even when Dobkin was on board to helm, though, we heard the approach was going to be a fairly serious one; however the trade's story today would seem to contradict that, indicating that Dobkin and writer Max Borenstein were expected to deliver an action-comedy take.  Personally, I was not against Dobkin directing, because I really, really enjoyed his action-comedy Shanghai Knights, but his more recent fair like Fred Claus had me a bit concerned.  Steven Soderbergh seems like a much more reliable choice. 

Soderbergh, however, as Heat Vision's Borys Kit points out, doesn't bring with him any one specific signature tone.  He could turn in a light and breezy U.N.C.L.E. movie, along the lines of his Ocean's 11 franchise, or he could give us a gritty, Casino Royale-like take, more akin to Traffic.  There's no way of knowing, but he is, apparently (and despite the studio being pleased with Borenstein's draft), concocting a whole new script with writer Scott Z. Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum), which whom he's recently collaborated on both The Informant! and the upcoming Contagion.  I, for one, would love to see an U.N.C.L.E. movie along the lines of Soderbergh's first Ocean's 11: not out-and-out comedic, but definitely fun.  That would be perfectly in keeping with the show's best season, the second one.  A more serious approach akin to the first wouldn't go amiss, but you definitely don't want to risk veering into slapstick Season 3 territory! 


Anonymous said...

Oh, let the horrors of season three never be seen again!

Personally, I like UNCLE's first season best, but that could just be because of my affection for B&W. The friendship/rivalry between Kuryakin and Solo was better in the second season though.

Sadly, if an UNCLE movie ever gets produced, it would probably be too risque for me to watch. But hopefully they find the proper balance and that it doesn't look like the slapstickiness that UNCLE became at one point.

Tanner said...

Yeah, I think you're actually right, Emm. I shouldn't have called the second the best. Let's say "most definitive." (And therefore probably the best to adapt for a movie.) I agree with you that the first season has a higher concentration of my favorite episodes. It feels a lot like Danger Man to me, in fact, which I like! I do think I'd like a bit of Season 2 (not Season 3!) style humor in the movie, though.