The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare – Guy Ritchie’s Latest Could Use More Brains Alongside the Brawn

MOVIE REVIEW – When it comes to war films, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare finds itself in a kind of no man’s land, blending elements from Mission: Impossible, Inglourious Basterds, and Guy Ritchie’s signature violent action-comedy within the framework of a captivating World War II true story. The end result, which is somewhat underwritten and messy, is broadly entertaining but lacks dramatic punch.


Henry Cavill (currently embracing spy roles, as seen in Argylle) and Alan Ritchson (Reacher) bring significant physicality to the proceedings, making it ironic how thin and underdeveloped the characters are. Ritchie seems to have rushed into the action, which comes at the expense of investing in the characters beyond the dire nature of the plot.



Secret Mission


The story centers on a nascent special ops team sanctioned by Winston Churchill himself (played unrecognizably by Rory Kinnear). This real-life group remained classified for decades until a 2014 book detailed their existence. With a pinch of The Dirty Dozen, the team is led by Gus March-Phillipps (Henry Cavill), who had to be freed from military prison to head the group.

Known as Operation Postmaster, the mission played a vital role in the war effort by targeting the supply chains outfitting Germany’s U-boats, whose presence in the Atlantic helped keep the US out of the war. March-Phillipps and his team are tasked with blowing up a supply vessel, facing overwhelming odds while knowing the British government will disavow them and the Germans will torture and kill them.



Diverse Characters


The central quintet (including Henry Golding, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, and Alex Pettyfer) receives logistical help from a female spy (Eiza González), tasked with seducing and distracting the German commander (Til Schweiger), and a resourceful businessman (Babs Olusanmokun) operating out of the port on the Spanish island of Fernando Po, where the boat is docked.

From the opening sequence, Ritchie (who previously worked with Cavill on The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) operates under the well-founded theory that the cathartic act of killing Nazis during World War II needs no explanation. In line with a long tradition of movies built around dangerous wartime missions (The Guns of Navarone comes to mind), the best-laid plans never quite follow the script and inevitably require improvisation.



Mixed Execution


However, the desire to tailor the film to fit Jerry Bruckheimer’s blockbuster style and Ritchie’s kinetic approach pulls it away from the grit that would reinforce its historical foundations. The closing crawl provides a clearer sense of those foundations, heightening the wish that Ritchie and his script collaborators had toned down the embellishments.

Those drawn to the film for its star-studded cast and mindless action mix will find it enjoyable. Nevertheless, a bit more brains alongside the brawn would significantly improve things, perhaps making these male (and female) operatives seem more special.

-Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-



The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

Direction - 6.2
Actors - 6.4
Story - 4.8
Visuals/Music/Sounds/Action - 7.2
Ambience - 6.3



Guy Ritchie's latest film, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, is broadly entertaining but lacks depth and drama. Despite the powerful action sequences and spectacular execution, the underdeveloped characters and thin plot prevent it from standing out among war films.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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