REVIEW: The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (2024)

Imagine Inglourious Basterds without the intelligent plotting, the engaging dialogue, the captivating characters, the witty humor, the expert pacing, the unbearable tension, or the palpable stakes, but with an undue smugness and the tone of the Suicide Squad movies, and you’ve got a good picture of The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. This film is an absolute disaster with nothing to make you care or even have some base fun. Watching the trailer is ten times better than sitting through this half-eaten crayon of a movie.

During World War II, Hitler demands England’s surrender, but Winston Churchill is holding out, unwilling to bend to the Nazis. Unfortunately, the British need America’s help to fight the German war machine, and the Yanks are unable to get past the Nazi U-boats. A plan is devised to stop the ships that supply the U-boats, and for that, Churchill and his allies – who have formed the Special Operations Executive – need Major Gus March-Phillips and his ragtag crew of roughnecks, plus a couple of spies.

That team must be a really kooky bunch of guys, right? They sure are… and that’s about all there is to them. The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare presents the viewer with its characters and dares him to find a single reason to care about them. Every member of Gus’ team has the same personality: zany. They just love them some killin’, and they make silly faces as they do it, so you know how crazy they are. The two spies are more measured, but they aren’t characterized any better. At least three of the heroes are motivated by losing loved ones to the Nazis; that’s how lazy the movie is. And these motivations are never mentioned more than once, nor do they serve a purpose later in the film. They’re just there to make it look like Guy Ritchie (who wrote the script in addition to directing) gave a thought towards this movie, which I don’t believe.

The plot doesn’t help them because it’s not so much on autopilot as it is crashing into a mountain. There is no suspense and there are no stakes as Gus and his boys cut their way through scores of bad guys like they’re in a video game on easy mode. They don’t even run; they take leisurely strolls through action sequences, never showing fear or concern, not seeming to take anything seriously. This might work in comedy (though even the Austin Powers films felt like they had more invested in the plots than this does), but The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare doesn’t want to be a comedy; it wants to be a serious men-on-a-mission movie with a somewhat comedic tone. It never once succeeds, and you don’t believe you’re watching a World War II adventure (let alone one based – I’m assuming very loosely – on a true story), with the events better suited to a Looney Tunes cartoon, minus the fun and brains.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

The lack of brains is most felt in the villains. The entire plot of The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare hinges on every Nazi in the film being a blithering idiot. Nobody seems like they’re even trying to stop the good guys, instead just standing around like dolts waiting to be shot. Several scenes should have ended in a major character death because there’s just no other way for the scene to go, but nah; the baddies just let the heroes slowly take the upper hand, then obligingly get killed. One Nazi has his target dead to rights and actually stands around waiting while the guy regroups from a jammed pistol and finds another way to kill him; I swear, I’m not joking. And the central villain is clearly modeled after Colonel Landa from Inglourious Basterds (this movie shamelessly rips off Tarantino’s film, down to the faux-Morricone score that is so glaringly obvious it’s embarrassing), but he’s a moron who can’t detect the obvious spy in his midst – who, of course, is also a moron.

But she gets by on luck more than brains, like everyone in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. Every time part of the plan goes wrong and the heroes should be in big trouble, it just kind of works out. The base they have to infiltrate to rescue a prisoner is more heavily fortified than they thought? Whatever! They just shoot their way through more Nazis than they thought they’d have to. They’re picked up by a British boat and ordered to board and be arrested? Nevermind! Hostilities at sea simply end the scene. A central part of the plan happens too early? No problem! It’s not like these idiots can do anything to stop the plot from moving forward with their guns and cannons and armies of soldiers. The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare goes full steam ahead to the end credits, hoping you’re distracted by enough explosions and cues to laugh not to notice how awful it is.  But what’s so infuriating is how smart it seems to think it is, or at least is desperately trying to appear to be. The dialogue sounds like Guy Ritchie actually thinks he’s being clever, and the dumbest parts of the plot are talked about like they’re genius ideas. It’s a Herculean task to sit through this without throwing something.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

Where does this nonsense leave the actors? Nowhere good. Henry Cavill, Alan Ritchson, Henry Golding, and the rest of the team are caught in empty roles that give them nothing to work with. These are based on real historical figures, and at the end, they give you one of those recaps of their lives with pictures of the actual people, and I couldn’t remember which was which because none of them are memorable. I feel especially bad for Eiza González because she’s really trying to make a fun, cool, sexy spy out of Marjorie Stewart (and she does succeed at the last bit, I have to say), but the character is too poorly drawn for that. The film goes out of its way to show how tough she is early on by having her insult someone who offers legitimate concern for her personal loss; this is the opposite of what she should be doing, and like every other bit of early characterization, it never pays off. Til Schweiger is a joke as the villain, never appearing smarter than the chair he’s sitting in.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is not worth your time, money, or, God forbid, thought. It’s stupid, boring, and weightless, and it’s smug about it. I’m disappointed, but I don’t know if it’s with the movie or myself for, once again, thinking I may have been in for a good time when I sat down in a movie theater in the 2020s.

Man, Henry Cavill really can’t catch a break, can he?

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (2024)

Plot - 2
Acting - 4
Directing/Editing - 5
Music/Sound - 4
Action - 4



The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is a brainless bore with rote action, a plot that relies on everyone being an idiot, and blank characters with no charm or distinguishing traits.

Comments (4)

April 19, 2024 at 4:48 am

Oof. What a disappointment. I was hoping this would be good.

    April 19, 2024 at 4:54 pm

    Me too. It just grows from “turn your brain off” to “remove your head entirely.”

April 19, 2024 at 5:04 am

It all seems like some kind of long humiliation ritual. Appears as if Henry has been frozen out and relegated to stoop this low just to stay working. Same could be said for Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino and Alan Ritchson. Like you said, how much is this them and how much is it them being given roles and lines and stories and plots on behalf of somebody else?
Either way, I am not into what they are doing. Guess Tarantino cancelled his last film? I am not a fan of his and I know he lives overseas now amongst the privileged.
Alan says such ridiculous things that I honestly wonder if Rob Reiner is his ghost writer.
This review is good though because I didn’t know about the silly faces and I’ll never watch this movie because I no longer buy into the historical accounts of the World Wars with the things things that are going on today. This movie looked very plastic right out of the gate. I posted the trailer for the heck of it because the cast was there, but this does not do Henry or Alan any favors. The only thing is that these movies are starting to erode into portraying the allies are murderous, blood thirsty, mentally deranged psychos instead of men out to do a morally just and right thing.
I think we all get it about Hollywood now though. We understand how much they hate Germans and really, any fair peoples.

    April 19, 2024 at 5:15 pm

    The one good thing was that it portrayed Churchill positively, which is a surprise in a modern movie. But yeah, it’s just silly and ridiculous, but not in a fun way. I’m amazed anyone thought it was good enough to release, but I feel that way about a lot of things I’ve seen lately.

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