The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: Flawlessly Executed

I love Guy Ritchie’s films. I had a friend who loved heist films and got me into his movies. Suffice to say, I’m always entertained when I watch one of Guy Ritchie’s films. So I expected The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, especially with the cast involved, to be entertaining. But it goes far beyond that, it is flawlessly executed, with style and panache, effortless action, and the entire cast is stellar. I think this is the best film yet from Guy Ritchie. 

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” is an spy action comedy directed and co-written by Guy Ritchie along with Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Arash Amel. In the film, Winston Churchill (Rory Kinnear) is beset on all sides during World War II and needs a way to get the Americans to join the fight. However, German u-boats are preventing them from doing so, blocking the Atlantic Ocean sea lanes. So Churchill, with the help of Brigadier Gubbins (Cary Elwes) and Ian Fleming (Freddie Fox) recruits a motley crew of rogues and mavericks for a top secret mission. The leader, Gus March-Phillips (Henry Cavill) leads his team, Anders Lassen (Alan Ritchson), Henry Hayes (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), Geoffrey Appleyard (Alex Pettyfer), and Freddy Alvarez (Henry Golding) on the mission, aided by spies Heron (Babs Olusanmokun) and Marjorie Stewart (Eiza Gonzalez). Their top secret mission leads to twists and turns that change the course of the war. The film also stars Til Schweiger as Heinrich Luhr and Danny Sapani as Kambili Kalu. 

One of the first elements I noticed was the storytelling. Guy Ritchie has a particular style to his stories but this one in particular has more style than normal. The writing emphasizes the comedy moments but also gives us a sense of the historical weight. Each piece of the story is set up perfectly, to allow for the spy aspects to be set up. While you can see certain moments coming, there are unexpected twists that enhance the entertainment and keep you on the edge of your seat. I love how the spy elements are set up, how the audience gets to ‘see’ the trick, and that builds our anticipation for more.

The comedy elements in this movie are well written. Henry Cavill when introduced tries to take everything not nailed down, including a coat. There is a sly humor used in the film with much of the comedy in the timing and the repartee between the men. Alan Ritchie as Lassen has moments where he is hilarious, setting off on his own to fight an entire base or when he grins after a particularly brutal fight. Henry Cavill also adds tons of humor, his character witty. The men play their characters as madmen and that off kilter approach really works to create comedy. Even Eiza Gonzalez gets her moment of humor when showing off her marksmanship shooting a glass bottle better than any man.

The fight scenes are spectacular. While they can be brutal and bloody, mostly they are absolutely fun. The team of men takes out their targets ruthlessly and without quarter. They don’t bother to announce their presence and many times they shoot soldiers who don’t expect them to even be there. For this film, the fighting never seems over the top, perhaps because there is a grain of truth to the tactics and the history of the men. They became the basis for the modern British SAS and covert ops and that shows in the tactics they use in their fights. Most of the actions they take are believable given the situation and that just makes the fight scenes even  more entertaining. The way the scenes are shot add to the entertainment as well, heightening both the action and the comedic elements. 

The acting in this is spectacular. Henry Cavill plays his part with sly humor, a grin on his face, and creates an impression of a charming rogue who is as dangerous as he is witty. His rapport with the other actors is excellent, helping to create a fast paced and funny film. Alan Ritchson is equally impressive as Anders Lassen. Alan Ritchson is skilled using an accent in the film and he  plays a much less restrained character, less serious and his comedy skills are stellar. Eiza Gonzalez is wickedly smart as Marjorie Stewart and skilled, able to hint at deeper emotions with a single look. Babs Olusanmokun is excellent as Heron, his character setting up events behind the scenes. He plays his character intelligently and with great heart. Henry Golding, Alex Pettyfer, and Hero Fiennes Tiffin are phenomenal in their roles. Cary Elwes and Freddie Fox are superb as Gubbins and Fleming. Til Schweiger plays an excellent villain.

If there are any flaws, I wasn’t able to see them. Yes, there are some predictable moments, but even those are done with such style and panache, that those scenes are still incredibly entertaining. The film has hilarious moments and incredibly fun action scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat. The heist in the film is one of the best I’ve seen and I love how all the spy elements come together. 

If you love any of Guy Ritchie’s films, you’ll love this one. It’s one of his best. He’s flawlessly crafted the story, the comedy and the action to create a completely entertaining movie. The cast is beyond incredible. Henry Cavill and Alan Ritchson in particular are funny and charming. They get to show different skills than in their previous work and in this, they are brilliant. Really, the entire movie is brilliant and I loved every moment. The film is flawlessly executed. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 coats.

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