Film Review: The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

I’m a big fan of Guy Ritchie’s films. His first two, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch”, are the business. Even as he’s gone more Hollywood over the years, his work always maintains that unique Ritchie touch – the clever dialogue, the inventive filming style. His Sherlock Holmes felt fresh and modern, despite the period setting. And “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” was a blast. Even when he slightly misses the mark, like with “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” or “Wrath of Man” (a poor man’s “Heat”), there’s still enough Ritchie magic to make them worth a watch. His “Aladdin” was okayish too. Really, “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre” is his only true dud (even the title is bad).

So, I was excited for “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”. The premise is great, revolving around a secret British commando unit formed during World War II to carry out covert operations against the Nazis. And the first hour was exactly what I wanted from a lazy Sunday flick. It was quintessentially English, almost to the point of parody, and it moved at a cracking pace. I love a good mercenary team-up film, and this one delivered.

Well for the first hour or so. As the second half of the film doesn’t quite stick the landing. The villain feels underutilised and not quite menacing enough. The fight scenes, which initially impressed with their stylish effortlessness, start to feel a bit repetitive and lack any real tension. You never doubt that our heroes will come out on top, which saps the stakes from the numerous altercations and the final big fight. The last hour just drags a bit, and I found my attention wandering.

Despite these issues, “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” is still a really solid film. It’s a fun, old-fashioned adventure that feels like a throwback in the best way. It reminded me of a combination of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Operation Mincemeat” and “The Wild Geese”.

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