Is there a director working today who delivers watchable movies as effortlessly as Guy Ritchie? Not only that, but Ritchie is prolific. The man averages a movie a year, which includes writing and producing duties, as well.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is Ritchie’s latest offering. It is based on a book by Damien Lewis. The book is inspired by Operation Postmaster. This little military foray was Churchill’s first experiment with special-forces missions. James Bond author Ian Fleming was also involved with the group’s inception and is even a minor character in the film.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is going to be inevitably compared to Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, as both movies feature a quirky look at World War II.

Which movie does it better?

Let’s take a mostly spoiler-free look at The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare and find out.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare Team

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare has the kind of cast a director would want to go to war with when making a movie.

Henry Cavill is his usual male-shaped clump of swaggering machismo. This time he sports a beard, curly moustache, and a silenced Sten. Not much is required of Cavill beyond being a roguish Nazi killer. He plays real-life soldier Gus March-Phillipps, who founded the force that would eventually became the SAS.


Eiza Gonzalez plays Marjorie Stewart. Gonzalez serves as a mole within the enemy camp. The character she plays eventually married March-Phillipps and became an actress. Gonzalez is having a pretty good year between this and 3 Body Problem.

Likewise, Alan Ritchson builds on his Reacher success. Ritchson is a hulking Swedish figure that likes to kill Nazis with his bow, arrows, and knife. His character, Anders Lassen, was a Danish soldier. Perhaps he knew my grandmother, as she was 100 percent Danish.

Henry Golding is probably happy to be working after the over-produced failure, Snake-Eyes. He plays Freddy Alarez, an explosive expert who aims to sink a ship that is supplying all of the German U-boats with carbon dioxide filters.

Alex Pettyfer and Hero Fiennes Tiffin round out the group, playing Geoffrey Appleyard and Henry Hayes, respectively.

Other Gentlemen

Cary Elwes plays “M,” who no doubt inspired the James Bond character. It is always nice to see Elwes. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much to do here.

Speaking of James Bond, Freddie Fox plays Ian Fleming.

Babs Olusanmokun performs as the partner of Gonzalez. Viewers will recognize him from Wrath of Man. He must have made Richie’s buddy list.

Meanwhile, Rory Kinnear is unrecognizable in makeup as Winston Churchill. Maybe that is how he prefers things after what happened to him in that nefarious Black Mirror episode. That’s a career-killing role there, man.

Finally, Til Schweiger, who played Hugo Stiglitz in Inglourious Basterds, stars as Heinrich Luhr. Luhr would qualify as the villain of the film. At the end of the day, Schweiger is maybe the most dynamic performer of the movie. His etched face was made for cinema.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

What do you want from a movie like this? You want a mission. Check. You want a team. Check. You want enemies to blow up. Check. You want action. Kind of. You want suspense. Sorry…

If The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare has a fault, it’s that it’s glib. The movie moves along at a brisk pace that offers little chance for depth for any of the characters.

When a person watches a movie like The Dirty Dozen, they grow invested in the characters. Each one is unique, from Cassavetes’s worminess, to Savalas’s sliminess, to Marvin’s toughness and Bronson’s stoicism, the viewer knows them all by the time the assault on the chateau rolls around. The final result of this is that the viewer feels it when they die.

Most of the team members in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare blend together. They are all extremely proficient, possess gallows humor, and have the same sort of lines. Ultimately, Ritchson is the one who stands out the most because he is so big and good at archery.

Speaking of the killing, all of the action scenes also follow a glib formula. The team simply strolls through a location and blasts Germans with silenced weapons.

Stuff like this leads to little suspense with the action scenes. Likewise, when the team is faced with a challenge, the problem is solved in about one minute of screen time. If one never studied World War II history, they might be inclined to think it was the easiest war ever fought.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare vs Inglourious Basterds

So, we arrive at the answer to the inevitable comparison. Inglourious Basterds is superior. The one mark The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare has in its favor is that it does have more Nazi-blasting scenes, whereas Tarantino was content to let the rising tension of his dialogue scenes serve as his movie’s action.

This isn’t one of Ritchie’s best films. The Gentleman, Wrath of Man, Snatch, etc. are more fleshed out. This one feels a bit rushed. Things are introduced and never followed up on. For example, Gonzalez is shown to be an expert marksman, Does she ever use those skills? Nope.

One can tell that from this review what kind of movie this is, as well. There is not much to say about it beyond who is in it and who they play.


Nevertheless, some entertainment certainly exists in the proceedings. The movie contains too much talent to be a total dud. Likewise, it is interesting to follow the story of who these guys were and what they did, even if it is a fictionalized account. At the very least, it motivates one to read about the real story.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is breezily watchable. It’s just not up to the “ritchness” of Guy’s previous works. One thing I did appreciate, though, was when a man dressed as Frankenstein got shot. As he died, he reached out like Karloff did to Elsa Lanchester in Bride of Frankenstein.

Well played, Ritchie…

3 stars

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