Press "Enter" to skip to content

Review: The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (2024)

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (2024)

Directed by: Guy Ritchie

Premise: Based on historical events. Set in World War II, the British government assembles a covert team of spies and soldiers to strike a Nazi U-boat base. 

What Works: Guy Ritche’s films are often very masculine but with a self-aware sense of humor. He understands the appeal of outlaw characters but frequently presents them in a cartoonish way. The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is consistent with the rest of Ritchie’s work and it brings a comic book style to World War II pictures. The film succeeds when its exploits that approach. Several actors play to that styled pitch, especially Henry Cavill who approaches the role of Gus March-Phillips with larger-than-life swagger. Eiza González plays Marjorie Stewart and she has an understated dangerousness. Her scenes undercover among the Nazis are the best moments in the film. Alan Ritchson also impresses as Anders Lassen, a man of the wilderness who has taken up killing Nazis. Ritchson matches violence with a goofy sense of humor.

What Doesn’t: Although The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is based on true events, it’s a scenario we’ve seen before and this film is essentially an inferior version of The Dirty Dozen. Aside from Cavill, González, and Ritchson, nobody in this film is interesting and even those three are mostly one note. No one has any depth. Gus March-Phillips selects a team of particular people for their unique soldiering skills but the characters never use those skills. There is a whole side quest to free one of their men from a Nazi prison but he doesn’t contribute any special skills or knowledge to the team. There’s no conflict within the team, not even the generic conflicts we usually see in a motley crew war film like this, nor do they grow and cohere as a group. One of the appeals of the buddies-in-action genre is the bonding between soldiers but that never happens here. The Nazis are presented as lame henchmen, like the villains of many action pictures. But they are especially generic and uninteresting in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, devoid of any ideology or personality. The action of The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is often flat. There is no tension or excitement. Part of the problem is the underdeveloped villains but the set pieces are also unremarkable. The British team is supposed to be elite and the only ones who can pull off the mission but the Nazi just stand around waiting to get shot; anybody could have completed this mission. The shootouts and fights have no visual flair, a disappointment coming from Ritchie who usually brings some visual style to his projects.

Bottom Line: The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is underwhelming in almost every way. A few of the lead actors inject energy where they can but the whole production is a limp imitation of The Dirty Dozen.

Episode: #995 (May 5, 2024)