The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

April 19, 202455/1007 min
Starring
Henry Cavill, Alan Ritchson, Alex Pettyfer, Eliza González
Written by
Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Arash Amel, and Guy Ritchie
Directed by
Guy Ritchie
Run Time
2h
Release Date
April 19th, 2024
Overall Score
Rating Summary

As far back as I can remember, I’ve hated nazis. I guess it was ingrained in me when I only knew them as the “bad guys” in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then after learning of the horrors of the Holocaust in school, I grew to forever hate them. So being a fan of film, I, like many others get joy out of seeing them punished, sometimes brutally punished. Whether it’s them getting smited by the Ark of the Covenant, getting crushed by a giant gear thrown by Hellboy, or getting beaten to death with a baseball bat by Sgt. Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz. I love watching nazis getting the unholy crap kicked out of them. So it was safe to say I was predisposed to enjoy The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. Add to that one of the kings of humorous violence, Mr. Guy Ritchie, I was primed for this one. However, maybe my expectations were a bit too high.

TMoUW (I can’t keep writing out that whole title for the rest of the review) opens with a way too similar version of the opening we saw 15 years ago in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. And while is was an entertaining way to kick things off, it didn’t exactly set the tone for the rest of the film. As we meet Major Gus March-Phillips (Henry Cavill) a British prisoner who is about to be released by Brigadier Gubbins ‘M’ (Cary Elwes) and a pre-James Bond creator Ian Fleming (Freddie Fox) to lead a secret and dangerous mission behind enemy lines at the order of Winston Churchill (Rory Kinnear). Gus is to infiltrate a German base near the coast of Africa where Uboats are getting their supplies and blow it up. With is crew including Alan Ritchson, Henry Golding, Alex Pettyfer, and Hero Fiennes Tiffin, they are traveling right between British forces that will arrest them on sight, and German forces who will kill them on sight. If they make it to the base, they will rendezvous with fellow conspirators Heron (Babs Blusanmokun) and the beautiful Marjorie Stewart (Eiza González) who are dealing with their own danger of fooling evil nazi Heinrich Luhr (Til Schweiger). The mission goes according to plan until it doesn’t, then the team must make a difficult decision in order to survive.

The other half of The Cine-Men, Brian Taylor said to me before the movie began “I wonder what Guy Ritchie we were going to get with this one (TMoUW)?” A fair question seeing as in the last few years Ritchie has had some hits (The Gentlemen, The Covenant), some misses (Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, Wrath of Man) and some ‘I don’t know what the hell’ (Aladdin). With this one, I’m going to have to lean slightly to the miss column, if only because of the script, which had four writers, and possibly more uncredited ones as well. Ritchie must have felt too beholden to the historical facts that he didn’t allow himself to have any fun with the material. Even though that is exactly what the trailer, and the title was selling to us. British soldiers who fight dirty and kill a ton of nazis in the process. And there is that at times, but it is so few and far between that the film kind of just meanders along. There are so many scenes where characters come up with a plan, sit and ponder the plan, they say they are going to execute the plan. So when you see it, it’s as if you are watching history play out after you already did all the homework, so nothing is a surprise. And only Alan Ritchson was the only one enjoying himself, and occasionally Eiza González with her great musical number.

Where I was pleasantly surprised bringing it back to Inglorious Basterds is with Til Schweiger who played Hugo Stiglitz in that film, and I’m shocked Tarantino didn’t give him more dialogue because he is positively creepy when he speaks, add to that his evil glare, he was a solid villain. By the end, again because it seemed Ritchie was shackled to the history of the events depicted in the film, it left TMoUW all feeling too underwhelming.

 

 

 

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