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The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

Farhad Dalal
Farhad Dalal
3.5 Star popcorn reviewss


Guy Ritchie has to be one of the most unique filmmakers in the mainstream space out there simply because of the flamboyance that he showcases with his craft. His action films laced with a playful sense of comedy has often been regarded as his USP with Snatch and Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels being his most famous work. Yet I do feel that offlate there was a discussion around how he might be prioritizing quantity over quality by churning out a host of films which may not actually meet his brilliant levels of craft. And that was my sole level of anxiety as I ventured into his brand new film The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare, based on the documents of Winston Churchill after they were declassified in 2016. I happened to read the premise of the film before venturing in it, and there was a sense of Inglourious Basterds gently peeping through the writing. That film by Quentin Tarantino has to be one of the greatest war satires to have ever been made, and with Guy Ritchie flirting with the same subject, the comparisons were going to be inevitable. So then, does The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare manage to impress, let’s find out.

Story & Screenplay

The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare follows the story of the British Army who assembles a team of soldiers to carry out the mission against the Nazis and in the process turn the complexion of the second world war. The story here which is based on true events makes for an entertaining watch particularly because of the treatment given to the drama, which has a very serious subject but a playful undertone that is testimony to Guy Ritchie the filmmaker. Here I must add that it would be extremely unfair to compare the film to Inglourious Basterds simply because that film is a modern day classic, and any attempt to recreate it or even dabble with its subject would fall short of expectations. So while the screenplay here standing at 120 minutes is partly cerebral and partly dumbed down almost unleashing an easy mode of combat, the proceedings are thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining. So the idea is to look at this film from an engagement point of view, and then you won’t be disappointed. 

The drama opees on a ship wherein a few of the principal characters are investigated by the Nazis on their supposed links with the Jews. At this point, you aren’t familiar with any of the characters or the origins which in turn does create a tense ambience cut through by some tongue and cheek humour. This in turn results in a shootout with all the Nazi soldiers reduced to pulp or callously shot down even as the bunch of characters on the ship shoot down the Nazi vessel in sight. This does set the tone of the drama to follow that skips to a recent past timeline acquainting the viewers with the geo-political situation of the second world war, and the stand of the British against the Nazis. And hence, the drama kickstarts with the then PM of the UK, Winston Churchill assembling a team for a discreet mission of sinking a vessel in the Atlantic which would indirectly change the course of the war in their favour. 

The proceedings are entertaining and engaging particularly when the story branches out into two parallel tracks – one involving a couple of characters setting up a base on ground for the other bunch of characters arriving by the sea albeit a little course deviation along the way. The action set pieces are engaging and brutal even though you do get a feeling that an easy mode has been activated non-chalantly. So while the stakes in the drama are never quite raised, the events are enjoyable given the quirky tone that they are subjected to, even during the combat sequences. On the other hand, the events on the base of the attack are much more cerebral even as equations are being built with the folks across enemy lines. The marriage of these two distinct worlds is what makes this drama unique and watchable, given the world building which is fascinating in itself. 

The events leading to the final act are interesting particularly with the events of the raid that forms a major part of the climax. My only gripe with the final act was that the stakes remained low consistently even as the Nazi soldiers are either shot down or butchered to death. Had there been an instant of the characters being cornered, only to eventually lead a fight back then the impact of the proceedings would have been much higher. But the one-dimensional final act in terms of killings does lower the drama slightly even though I must admit that the craft with which the proceedings were shot were rather indulgent and enjoyable. The little meta reference of the James Bond cinematic universe did go so well with the tone of the drama. Overall, the screenplay is well written and makes for an enjoyable watch.

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are most definitely tongue and cheek, and make for an engaging watch with traces of humour sprinkled in the narrative. The BGM is good although a better score in the finale combat scene would have further elevated the drama. The cinematography is excellent capturing frames of revolt with a lot of panache while allowing the viewers to indulge in the cerebral aspect of the proceedings too with some amazing mid-shots. The editing is crisp and maintains the tempo of the drama without allowing it to get bogged down at any point. Director Guy Ritchie does a good job yet again infusing his trademark brand of humour seamlessly in the narrative. But I still feel that his capability as a director often comes with its share of magic which wasn’t quite the case here. Perhaps, slowing down a bit won’t be a bad idea after all, this even as the direction makes its presence felt in the overall scheme of things.


The performances are pretty good by the ensemble cast. Babs Olusanmoku as Heron is subtle with his performance and makes his presence felt. Henry Golding as Alvarez and Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Henry have their moments to shine. Alex Pettyfer as Appleyard excels in some of the combat sequences, as does Alan Richson as Lassen who also has a towering presence onscreen. Eiza Gonzalez as Manjorie has all the ingredients of a bond girl right from her gorgeous looks to her amazing screen presence, and her performance that was deceptive and sultry in equal measures. More so, she also excels in combat sequences thereby making this a great outing for her. Speaking of the bond film, Henry Cavill is also a contender to be the next 007 Agent. As Gus, he oozes of style and executes the combat sequences with panache. Also, his towering presence commands your attention in each and every scene that he features in. He is simply brilliant here.


Guy Ritchie’s The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare is an engaging spy drama with traces of humour that will remind you of Inglourious Basterds. And though it may not reach the high standards of the Quentin Tarantino directed film, it definitely makes for an enjoyable watch.

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