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What to Watch This Weekend – The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is the (sort of) true story of military cunning during the escalation of World War II. Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Rory Kinnear) realizes the war is not going in England’s favor. The best chance at victory is to coax the United States into joining the fray—a proposition the Americans won’t take unless the Allies make demonstrable progress. This leads to the creation of Operation Postmaster. Through this off-the-books mission, Gus March-Phillips (Henry Cavill) assembles and leads a team charged with destroying a key Italian supply ship while docked at the island of Fernando Po. As the window for success rapidly closes, March-Phillips and the rest of his motley crew must constantly improvise if they have any chance of completing the operation.

What works in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is the cast of colorful characters, snappy dialogue, and over-the-top action. Director Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes, Snatch) brings together a fantastic ensemble of performers. Like in any good heist, each comes with a particular set of skills and Ritchie leverages them in a unified balance. Of particular delight are Alan Ritchson (Reacher, Fast X) as Anders Lassen the one-man wrecking ball; Eiza González (Alita: Battle Angel, 3 Body Problem) as Marjorie Stewart the clandestine seductress; and Cavill’s March-Phillipps who exudes unhinged charisma at every turn. Through the lens of fictionalized history, Ritchie imbues chaotic fun into the events that influenced this daring mission. The result is a violent romp that successfully maintains its adrenaline-fueled pace throughout the runtime.

People who feel uncomfortable with gratuitous gore may not enjoy The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare as much as others. Like many of Guy Ritchie’s R-rated features, this outing has minimal restraint when it comes to choreographing death. Wave after wave of enemy soldiers meet their end in almost cartoonish fashion. At points, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare feels more like a video game than a movie as Cavill and company dispatch their enemies. Furthermore, this retelling of Operation Postmaster takes many liberties with fact. The basic tenets of events and people are largely accurate, but the execution has been purposely cinematized. This is not a documentary.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is popcorn entertainment for fans of military action. Ritchie blends humor, silliness, and vivacity into a wonderful concoction that goes down smooth. While it won’t win points for historical accuracy, its style and energy make it highly recommended.

Recommended if you enjoyed: Inglorious Basterds, The Expendables 2

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