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Review on The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

Conventional Tactics? We Don’t Do That Here.
Movie poster for The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is a film released in 2024, directed by Guy Ritchie and based on the book with the same name written by Damien Lewis. The film follows a dramatization of Operation Postmaster, a real operation in World War 2, that helped spawn the modern-day field of special operations. The film stars notable actors Henry Cavill as Gus March-Phillips, Alan Ritchson as Anders Lassen, Alex Pettyfer as Geoggrey Appleyard, and many others. This dramatic action war movie is set in 1941 during World War 2, taking place across the UK and West Africa.

The beginning of the film opens with an explanation of how the German U-Boats, in 1941-42 controlled the Atlantic, preventing supplies from America to cross to the currently under siege British. Then they explain how they are going to stop this, by attacking the supply chain for the U-Boats, blowing up a couple ships carrying vital U-Boat parts in the Spanish-controlled island of Fernando Po in what is called Operation Postmaster. “This is an unsanctioned, unauthorized mission,” Henry Cavill’s character says, not executed by the British, and if the operatives are caught, they are to be arrested, and if they fail, Britain will fall. We continue with the initial formation of a team from various both domestic and foreign military specialists coming together for this special operation, each with a personal reason why they hate Nazis. The film continues with the group of four freeing another character, Appleyard, from Nazi imprisonment along the route to Fernando Po. When the group of now five gets to the island, they have to form new connections, allies, and strategies to deal with changes with the situation around the Nazi presence. After much anticipation, the main phase of Operation Postmaster is underway with a stealthy incursion to complete their objectives.

When watching the film, an aspect of filmmaking that catches the eye was the use of sound throughout the movie. For example, the vast majority of the movie has the background music being lighthearted, even with tense situations that have bullets flying. This was shown in the operation to free Appleyard, which helps to enhance the feelings of the characters, who are equally lighthearted and having fun. Another example of how sound is implemented is when private conversations are going on, like at the Officer’s Party during the raid. During a scene of this, all conversations, the singing, and the music dims down to barely audible while two Nazi officers talk with one another, pulling the audience’s attention into that moment. In some situations, there isn’t any significant music playing, like when some of the characters were sweeping clear the boats in those tight, enclosed spaces, making the suddenness of the alarm alert the viewer just as much as the characters.

Another aspect of filmmaking has the director implement the use of costume design to enhance the film. A way this is shown is this film mainly takes place off the coast of southern West Africa near the equator, and the costume design reflects that in both showing the heat of the area and the use of the uniforms used by the various characters. Each nation’s military has distinct uniforms to help differentiate to who each actor belongs, like the Spanish guards with their uniquely tan outfits, and everybody being in short sleeves with light clothes. Also, the main characters are supposed to not be affiliated with the English at all, and their clothes reflect so, with as casual civilian clothes as one can wear, like with Lassen and his casual blue henley. There is also a level of humor in the costume design, with a continuous jab with March-Phillips trying to steal anything and everything, including several Nazi Officer’s coats.

I would recommend this movie to people who like World War 2-era movies, spy thrillers, and comedic action films. However, I would not recommend this movie to those who are disturbed by violence, gore, or symbols of Nazism. And given its rating of R due to the strong violence throughout the film and some strong language being present, I would not recommend this film to children. I did like the film; the actors gave the characters life and the film’s carefree attitude to everything gave a look of how strange they truly are. The use of a straightforward plot also helped to prevent confusion amongst the audience. Director Guy Richie made a well-made film, with enough accuracy to the actual operation as well as enough comedy to show how much the hatred held by each of these characters led them against their slaughter of Nazis. This made way for a film that, even though there is violence and killing, could be enjoyed by all who watched.

I would give this movie 5/5 stars.

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