Monday, May 06, 2024

"The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare" (2024) -- Initial Thoughts

You know what this felt like?  A 1960s-style WWII movie, but with 1970s-style levels of violence and language.

I really love movies where the director and actors are all having a really great time, and you feel like they're inviting you to just have fun and enjoy yourself alongside them.  That is absolutely the vibe this movie had.  Was it one of the most violent movies I have seen?  Yes.  But it wasn't dark and it wasn't eerie and it wasn't depressing.  And it contained that sense of camaraderie and the brothers-in-arms-who-will-die-for-each-other attitude that I absolutely love in true stories about WWII and the classic films about it. 

Also, there was really no shoehorning of modern sensibilities into this movie about real people and real events.  That's so delicious.  It was like Midway (2019) in that way.  These people FELT like they were 1940s folks.  Fantastic. 

Also, the film did not sidestep the issue of "Nazis hated the Jews."  In fact, it made it explicitly clear that the main bad guy decides to torture and kill someone not because he discovers they are a spy, but because he figures out they are Jewish.  And he is a completely evil character that the audience is never asked to sympathize with.  In our particular moment in time, that seems like a bold statement, and I appreciated it.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (2024) is about a ragtag group of five Allied men and one women, each with their own very specific set of often unsavory skills, who get sent on a daring black-ops raid against the Nazis.  It's kind of like The Dirty Dozen (1967) or The Devil's Brigade (1968), but make it British.  And a true story.  Like The Monuments Men (2014), but with a higher body count and more gallows humor.

Did I mention it's a true story?  It is.  I've been doing some digging around, and I need to read some books on this whole heist raid thing, because it is amazing.  My library only has the audiobook edition of Damien Lewis's book that this movie is based on (so rude!), so I simply have to buy my own copy.  Also, I need the movie soundtrack, but it looks like that's only on mp3 and not CD (also rude), at least so far.  May have to get the mp3 version, I guess.

This really isn't a review so much as a rambling assortment of my thoughts about the film.  Sorry.  I've only seen it once, and I have a lot of things I want to say, but it's not really an easy film to straight-up review.  I'm simply going to have to go see this movie again.  

The cast is delightful, especially Henry Cavill and Eiza Gonz├ílez and Cary Elwes.  It's always weird seeing Cary Elwes in anything besides The Princess Bride (1987), but I got kinda used to him by the end of this.  Honestly, I went to see this because WWII + Henry Cavill + Guy Ritchie sounded like it might be a good mix, and I was not disappointed!

This is not a family friendly movie, though.  There is some serious cussing, some innuendo, and a LOT of violence.  Not quite the level of a Quentin Tarantino movie (which I have just kind of quit watching because they started turning my stomach), but blood spatter happens, and a lot of death happens.  Also, the bad guy is a sadistic creep who tortures people for his own pleasure.  We do not see that torture, but we see a victim of it (not in detail), and we fear very much for another character when it becomes obvious he has Very Bad Plans for them.  There were several places where the film started tilting toward the dark and disturbing, then very nicely sidestepped that and forged merrily ahead instead, much to my relief.  It had the attitude of, "There are really bad things happening in this world because there are very bad people in this world -- but let's blow something up instead of talking about that too much."  If that makes any sense.

Do I recommend this to people who are adults and won't be bothered by the violence?  Absolutely.  It's a remarkably good time.

Oh!  And they had little things at the end before the credits, telling us what happened to the actual people involved in the story, later during the war.  I love it when movies do that.

But it's kind of unfair that Henry Cavill can be completely covered with a shaggy beard and twirly mustache and still be that attractive.  The repeated gag about his character stealing progressively cooler coats was one of my favorite random little things in the movie.


  1. Henry Cavill is one of those rare guys I think looks better with a mustache/beard. Normally he doesn't do anything for me (clean-shaven), but I'm quite liking the stills from this film *googly eyes emoji*

    1. Katie, oh yes, Cavill scruffs up well. But I do find him quite handsome when he is clean-shaven too. And this whole movie is definitely a feast for the eyes! Guy Ritchie has such style.

  2. I'll watch for this movie once it hits a streaming service -- sounds like a good romp.

  3. Guy Ritchie is one of my favorite directors. I love his use of banter, bromance, and his choice of actors is always good! Loved this one, hadn't had that much fun since The Man From Uncle. So good!

    1. Skye, I have to say, I have enjoyed everything of Ritchie's I have seen. Which is not loads, but if you look at my movie shelves, I have five of his movies, and I'll be adding this one. In fact, every movie of his I have seen so far, I have liked enough to want to own a copy! You are right -- he does the buddy dynamic perfectly. Not a lot of directors right now who will delve into a platonic friendship between guys, which is super sad and annoying -- but at least we have Ritchie! Because that dynamic is one of my favorite things. I can watch a pair or group of guys work together and take jabs at each other and rescue each other allllllll day.

  4. Fun, fun, fun! I shall look forward to seeing how I feel about this show if I do end up watching it.


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