The Reel Review


Britain’s first ragtag team of secret agents set out for a Nazi German military supply depot off the coast of West Africa in 1942, in an effort to stop German U-boats from controlling the Atlantic Ocean and keeping the Americans out of World War II. Henry Cavill, Alan Ritchson, Alex Pettyfer and Eiza Gonzalez star in director Guy Ritchie’s action/adventure war thriller based on the 2014 book “Churchill’s Secret Warriors: The Explosive True Story of the Special Forces Desperadoes of WWII,” also known as the recently declassified Operation Postmaster.

Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Henry Cavill in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

This may just be director Guy Ritchie’s best movie yet – a very entertaining film in which the heroes waste A LOT of Nazis in a lot of well-choreographed combat scenes, and with enough cheeky humor to be clever without being obnoxious. Cavill plays real life leader of the group Gus March-Phillips, billed as the likely inspiration for British Naval Intelligence officer Ian Fleming’s spymaster James Bond, with Ritchson (Reacher) as the Danish bow-and-arrow wielding, one-man killing machine, Pettyfer (Magic Mike) as the brains of the operation, and Gonzalez (Ambulance, Baby Driver) as the Jewish femme fatale and sharpshooter, Marjorie Stewart. An unrecognizable Rory Kinnear (Men, Years and Years) is impressive as Churchill.

Eiza Gonzalez in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

Yes, the predictable story at times feels like a wacky WWII-era mashup of Mission Impossible and Inglorious Basterds, and Ritchie and his team of co-writers take a lot of liberties with details of the story, but The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is still great fun, quickly paced and a nice homage to these long-unheralded war heroes.


• While many of the details in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare are fictionalized, the main plot points surrounding the outcome of the Italian merchant vessel Duchessa d’Aosta at the island of Fernando Po off the coast of Nigeria actually took place as depicted.

• Anders Lassen, the Danish fighter played by Alan Ritchson, was killed in action in Italy in 1945 and awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest decoration, for his actions there.

Gus March-Phillips and Majorie Stewart on their wedding day in 1942 and right, Stewart a decade later, as an actress.

• Following WWII, British undercover spy Marjorie Stewart became an actress, with minor roles in 1952’s Little Big Shot and 1954’s The Master Plan. She was married to Gus March-Phillips for only five months in 1942, prior to his being killed in action. Stewart died from cancer in London’s Kensington neighborhood at the age of 76 in 1988.


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