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Movie Review: The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare


“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.” - Ian Fleming

When Guy Ritchie is in his wheelhouse he’s one of the best. When he leaves it, likely for a paycheck, he tends to lose any sense of what makes him a worthwhile creator. Having seen what he’s capable of I believe wholeheartedly any major shortcomings, Aladdin, are the fault of the studios, Disney. When he’s left to his own devices, his stories can be pretty damn entertaining. The Gentlemen, Snatch, The Covenant, Sherlock Holmes to name a few excellent Guy Ritchie jaunts. Wild violence played out with a certain amount of frivolity. His characters are usually lively, outspoken and courageous. Morally they tend to find themselves in areas of gray. His villains have a tendency to be quite malicious and take pride in being the vicious, inhumane characters they are. It’s almost as if he has a lot of fun writing outlandish violence and equally crazy characters that he figures why should it only be him having all the fun and makes his characters enjoy the mayhem just as much as him. 

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is seemingly Ritchie at his most free, possibly most unhinged. He approached the studio and said he wanted to make a movie about destroying Nazis and they cut him a check. That’s what it feels like anyway. And I say this with all the admiration in the world. Warfare is a damn good time and its simplicity allows for the best moments of Nazis getting profusely stabbed and shot and exploded to shine all the more. The violence is plentiful and the people on the bad end of it are all too deserving making the savagery really satisfying.

Now that the DCEU is thankfully dead, Henry Cavill can escape its insanity, and banality, and explore other kinds of roles. As Gus March-Phillips, Cavill is off the deep end as a man who takes Nazi killing to a high artform. Not to mention he does it with a shit-eating kind of grin plastered all over his face. Nazi massacre hasn’t been this much fun since Inglourious Basterds. At Cavill’s side is Alan Ritchson as Anders Lassen, a master of the bow and arrow, and for a more up close and personal approach, few are better with a blade than him. Henry Golding is a mischievous demolisher named Freddy who finds the purpose of his life in the things he blows up or just all around destroys. Hidden in plain sight among the Nazi scum is Eiza González as Marjorie Stewart and Babs Olusanmokun as Heron. Together these two act as the intel gatherers for Cavill’s impending team of the ungentlemanly type. These anti-hero-heroes along with some other less than wholesome humans resent authority but each for personal reasons have a massive loathing of the Nazi regime. They will come together for the fun of killing evil scum and take pride in sticking it to those that have a proverbial stick forever up their posterior. It’s a win-win for them really. 

The action sequences feature rather brutal violence but it’s executed in such a way that makes it borderline hilarious to watch unfold. The excessive amount of times you witness Ritchson’s character stab a single human being is absurdly funny especially as he tries to pretend he doesn’t enjoy ruining himself some perfectly deplorable gestapo. Imagine Jack Reacher having a sense of humor as he beats bad guys to a bloody pulp. It’s all in good fun!

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is a very basic, straightforward Nazi destroying WWII action flick. Many will likely fault it for its overly simplistic script but I would have to completely disagree and say that a rudimentary approach with the story allows for more whimsical moments of great character interaction and vengeance fueled justice to play out in grand fashion. Rather than focus so much on why they agree to a suicide mission, it briefly explains their motivations while establishing a healthy amount of mental instability. 

One of the greatest strengths of any true Guy Ritchie picture is usually the relationships between his characters. It can sometimes just be two individuals facing insurmountable odds, The Covenant, but his true shining achievements always seem to come with an ensemble of eclectic characters. Each man under the banner of ungentleman-like is similarly eccentric but equally identifiable by their choice of weapons, discernible skill sets and how they interact within the larger group. Each character is given their moment in the sun usually in the form of maiming and or massacring some unsuspecting Nazi unit. They are each individually a blast to watch but together they become a machine-like group of elite murder soldiers. 

I don’t know what else to tell you. If you don’t find bullets ripping apart Nazis hilariously entertaining I can’t recommend this particular adventure. If discovering new and exciting ways to dismember evildoers isn’t your thing, steer clear. If you’ve never found yourself particularly enjoying a Guy Ritchie picture, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare probably isn’t your bag. This is an action movie that takes great pride in destroying the villains of its story. The protagonists are morally ambiguous killers who just so happen to find themselves on the right side of history at least for the moment. While it’s based on real people, who I assume were great humans rightfully celebrated by their respective countries, in the world of Guy Ritchie they are human terminators but instead of John Connor in their crosshairs, it’s the entire Nazi party who find themselves at risk of being royally and rightfully fucked up. It bears little to no surprises. It’s simple and depending on who you ask, maybe detrimentally so. If you liked what you saw in the trailer, I swear to you its promise of crazy, funny violence at the expense of history’s greatest bad guys is delivered with gusto. 

Rated R For: strong violence throughout and some language

Runtime: 120 minutes

After Credits Scene: No

Genre: Action, Drama, War

Starring: Henry Cavill, Alan Ritchson, Henry Golding, Eiza González

Directed By: Guy Ritchie

Out of 10

Story: 8.5/ Acting: 9/ Directing: 8.5/ Visuals: 9


Buy to Own: Yes.


Check out the trailer below:

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