Witty warfare and action-packed escapades

Published 11:19 am Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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This week at the Tryon Theatre, we have “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare,” a film with an admittedly hard-to-chew title but an easily digestible plot. 

This film, from director Guy Ritchie, is a perfect companion to his existing catalog, chock full of action, winking quips, and stylishly adorned rogues. Based loosely on true events, this film is an adaptation of the even longer titled 2014 book, Churchill’s Secret Warriors: The Explosive True Story of the Special Forces Desperadoes of WWII, written by Damien Lewis. Like many of Ritchie’s films, “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” features a large ensemble cast of beautiful faces engaged in all manner of mischief and mayhem. 

Leading this particular ensemble is Henry Cavill in a role that suits him better than the polished and clean-cut characters to which he’s previously been attached. Cavill plays Gus March-Phillips, the leader of the film’s central commando team and the real-life inspiration for writer (and real British spy) Ian Fleming in his writing of the character of James Bond. Cavill plays March-Phillips with all the winking English charm one could hope, but with a scruffy and devious undercurrent of madness that injects the film with an electric current of fun. Cavill is joined by many other oddball operatives as his team is assembled, with the most notable performance coming from Alan Ritchson, one of the only actors capable of dwarfing Cavill’s physique. Ritchson plays Danish Naval Officer Anders Lassen, a hulking wrecking ball of a character, and one whose onscreen exploits pale in comparison to the real-life Lassen, the only non-British subject to ever be awarded the Victoria Cross. 

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Set in late 1941, Britain, the film finds The Crown flailing in its efforts to stem the advancement of Nazi Germany across the European theater. In a desperate dash, part hope, part insanity, British intelligence decides to initiate “Operation Postmaster,” an unsanctioned series of sabotage missions intended to disrupt the Nazi U-boat resupply lines in Spain, an integral part of the Nazi’s capacity to hold their recently occupied territory. This plan, overseen from the shadows by Churchill, enlists March-Phillips and his team to turn their criminal insanity against those enemies most deserving of a violent demise. As the film’s plot kicks off, there is no shortage of cheeky dialogue and explosive character introductions to keep the narrative clipping along, with well-timed action and spectacle accenting each development of the plot. 

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” is an admittedly violent film, but one that treats it with a cinematic and gleeful flair, an almost Tarantino-esque approach to warfare. In doing so, the film’s action and combat, while impactful, is stylized and intentionally indulgent, more akin to a comic book than the grounded, real-world inspiration for the story. The film’s humor and clear-cut sense of good vs. evil allow for a ride in which the viewer will find no mental challenge in their consumption of cinema, only a thrilling time. This film is fun, rambunctious, and over the top, a perfect movie to begin the summer months of blockbusters and broad entertainment. We hope you will share some laughs and some explosions with us soon!