Australian Council on Children and the Media

Man from UNCLE, The

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Not recommended under 15 due to violence and disturbing scenes, including torture

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Man from UNCLE, The
  • a review of Man from UNCLE, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 August 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to violent and disturbing scenes including torture

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Man from UNCLE, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence
Length 111 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Man from U.N.C.L.E is a film set in the 1960s during the period of the Cold War. It centres on two special agents from the United Network Command for Law Enforcement, American agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Russian spy Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). The film follows the two agents as they join forces to attempt to stop a mysterious international crime organisation from selling nuclear weapons and war technology, potentially threatening to destabilise the social balance of power.

 Napoleon’s mission is initially to transport Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), a German mechanic, across the Berlin Wall from east to West Germany. However, after the Russian spy Illya catches up with them, the two agents are forced to collaborate. Following their orders, they use Gaby to infiltrate a shipping company that is allegedly holding her father, a famous German physicist, captive in order to construct nuclear weaponry. The movie follows the two agents as they struggle with initial distrust for one another, before they come to realise that they must learn to rely on the other in order to succeed.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Spying; nuclear war and conflict; relationships; loyalty and trust

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is considerable violence within the film, including:

  • Many scenes where characters fight physically, punching each other.
  • Use of guns and other weaponry
  • A man is stabbed with a knife and we hear a cutting sound.
  • A main character is tortured with electricity. He is rescued and his torturer is strapped in the chair in his place and electrocuted but this takes place in the background of a shot. His actual death is not shown on camera, but it causes a fire.
  • It is implied that several individuals are killed when a truck hits a boat – there are scenes where dead people are seen, but this is not presented in a graphic manner (e.g. no blood shown).

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned violent scenes and scenes with explosions, fire and car chases.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by  the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes, particularly the one involving torture and electrocution.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references within the film, including:

  • The character Napoleon is said to be a ‘womaniser’. He has sex with a number of women within the film, although this is not shown.
  • References from characters about being ‘turned on’ or sexually aroused.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some sexual activity and nudity, including:

  • After one of Napoleon’s sexual encounters, a woman can be seen wearing lace underwear and no shirt.
  • In another of his encounters, there is on-camera kissing between him and a woman – sex occurs off camera and is implied.
  • Gaby and Ilya pretend to be engaged and share a room. They dance and wrestle each other, but go no further.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances, including:

  • Social drinking in party settings.
  • A woman appears to be intoxicated after drinking alcohol from a bottle.
  • As can be expected in a film set in the 1960s, there is frequent smoking by a number of characters.

Coarse language

There is some use of coarse language, including:

  • Sexual terms such as ‘pussy’, used as an insult.
  • ‘Hell’ is used multiple times.
  • Insulting words such as ‘idiot’ are frequently used. 

In a nutshell

The Man from UNCLE is an action-packed and exciting story about an unlikely friendship between two special agents, from the United States and Russia. It is an adaptation of the 1960s TV show which might be remembered by some parents and grandparents. At the film’s core is the struggle both Napoleon and Illya must face as a result of their intrinsic distrust of one another – they both slowly come to terms with the fact that they must follow their respective orders and learn to work together.

The film is rated M and contains frequent violence, and a scene of torture and death that are likely to disturb young children and some younger teens.

Parents may wish to discuss

  • The representation of gender, and Gaby as a role model.
  • The nature and consequences of violence, and the reality of being a spy.
  • Issues related to authority and following orders.

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