THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE – A Review by Cynthia Flores

THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE – A Review by Cynthia Flores

This film is based on the book “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: How Churchill’s Secret Warriors Set Europe Ablaze and Gave Birth to Modern Black Ops” by Damien Lewis. That book was based on recently declassified files of the British War Department and inspired by true events.

Now, add to the mix the iconic producer Jerry Bruckheimer, known for supercharged big-budget action films that go BOOM. And the amazingly talented writer/director/producer Guy Ritchie who came from the indie film world and is known for great fighting scenes and clever plots. Have them work together for the first time and you have a fun action film to kick off the summer season.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare tells the story of the first off-the-books special forces organization formed during World War II by the UK Prime Minister at the time, Winston Churchill (Rory Kinnear). Aided by a tight group of British military officials led by Brigadier Grubbins (Cary Elwes) and the yet-to-become author Ian Fleming (Freddie Fox). Fleming is best known for his James Bond series of spy novels. 

The top-secret combat unit was composed of a rough crew of rogues and mavericks. It included Anders Lassen (Alan Ritchson) who is brawny and deadly with bows and arrows and anything sharp. Freddy Alverez (Henry Golding) is a frog man and a genius with explosives. Young Henry Hayes (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) is the team’s navigator who can captain a ship anywhere. They are headed by disgraced former soldier Gus March-Phillips (Henry Cavill), a brilliant leader that the men will follow anywhere. He is most at home creating chaos and killing Nazis. He rescues his old friend army officer Geoffrey Appleyard (Alex Pettyfer) who was captured while spying on the Nazis and their U-boat supply setup. Together with Heron (Babs Olusanmokun) a nightclub owner, Kambili Kalu (Danny Spani) a local prince, and the beautiful Marjorie Stewart (Eiza Gonźalez) a trained British spy, they are on a daring mission against the Nazis. Led by Heinrich Luhr (Til Schweiger), a sadist that takes evil to a whole other level.

The mission is dangerous. If they are captured by the Nazis, they will be killed. If they are captured by the British army, they will be arrested. But with the blessing of Prime Minister Churchill, they are encouraged to use entirely unconventional and utterly “ungentlemanly” fighting techniques to get the job done.

Ultimately their unorthodox methods changed the course of the war and laid the foundation for the British SAS and modern Black Ops warfare.

All in all, this movie is a solid, if not uneven at times, action film. I blame Bruckheimer’s influence for this. It is not one of Guy Richie’s best films like Snatch or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, or the stylish film The Gentlemen. However, it does have whatever magic sauce that he uses to give the audience a fun ride bathed in oftentimes hilarious violence.

I am still trying to figure out why it is so much fun to see Nazis slaughtered by the dozens in various and creatively bloody ways…pass the popcorn, please. The cherry on top of all of this fast-paced fighting is the film’s grand and magnetic score by Christopher Benstead. He works often with Richie. Even though he has his own sound, if you listen closely, you can hear echoes of the score from The Dirty Dozen by Fran De Vol mixed with iconic spaghetti western scores by Ennio Morricone.

I give The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare 3.75 stars. It’s a solid summer popcorn action film. You will shout at the screen and cheer as the bad guys get what is coming to them. What is coming to us is a fun night at the movies with our friends.

 

Directed by: Guy Richie

Written by: Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Arash Amel, Guy Ritchie

Rated: R

Selig Rating: 3.75 Stars

Running Time: 2 hr

Action/ Comedy/ Drama

Theatrical Wide Release: April 19th in theaters everywhere

Starring: Henry Cavill, Eiza González, Alan Ritchson, Alex Pettyfer, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Babs Olusamokun, Henrique Zaga, Till Schweiger, with Henry Golding, and Cary Elwes

 

The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.

4 Stars – Good movie/show

3 Stars – OK movie/show

2 Stars – Well, there was nothing else…

1 Star – Total waste of time.

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