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KPCW sends its most discerning moviegoers to the movies each week to let you know which films are worth going to and which are a pass. The Friday Film Review airs at 7:20 a.m., during the Noon News and in The Local View. KPCW Friday Film Reviewers are: Barb Bretz, Rick Brough, Mark Harrington and Linda Jager.

Friday Film Review | 'The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare'

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare,” is action director Guy Ritchie’s fictional tribute to a real-life mission which became the genesis for British special forces and inspired Ian Flemming’s James Bond novels.

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” features a stand-out cast led by Guy Ritchie regulars Henry Cavill and Eiza González, renowned German actor/director Til Schweiger, and Alan Ritchson on loan from the Netflix “Reacher” series. The film is inspired by the 2014 book “Churchill’s Secret Warriors: The Explosive True Story of the Special Forces of WWII” by war correspondent and author Damien Lewis. Needing a spark to counter the increasingly dire position of England battling Hitler before the U.S. joined the fight, British military command comes up with a plan to upend the Nazi U-boat supply chain. The problem is the target of the mission is an Italian supply boat which is located off the West African coast on an island under the Spanish flag. Spain is neutral in the war, and naval command refuses to green light the mission. As a result, Churchill forms the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and unleashes a rag-tag commando force to secretly sail to the island and sabotage the supply boat. If caught by the Germans, the un-uniformed soldiers would be executed. But if the SOE team is intercepted by British navy patrols, they would be imprisoned. The real mission took a whopping thirty minutes to execute, resulting in no assault team casualties and led to similar small team SOE deployments during the war.

But true British war history is by no means the goal of action director Guy Ritchie. So, toss all facts out the window, give everyone super special silencers on machine guns and hunting knives so big Jim Bowie would be proud, and let the Nazi killing fun begin.

Henry Cavill is no Lee Marvin as the band of misfit’s mission leader, and again Guy Ritchie doesn’t want him to be. The characters are intentionally distorted to display part crazy, part heroic tendencies. Ritchie acknowledges that killing humans in war requires a degree of insanity and while he employs the insane mannerisms, like an ill-placed Michael Jordan-like-tongue flapping for laughs, the characterizations are quite deliberate. The problem is the film can’t really decide what it wants to be because the humor is so interment and killing so rampant, the end result doesn’t hit the mark of tribute, parody or indictment. Regardless, the film’s cast clearly has a ball and it’s unapologetically infectious. Eiza González and Til Schweiger are the most enjoyable to watch as opposing agents in their cat and mouse deadly game of deceit.

So, on my Black Diamond ski trail rating system, ““The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” earns my intermediated BLUE trail rating. Guy Ritchie delivers just enough tongue and cheek humor mixed with his terrific action sequences to keep this film fun for audiences. Again, true wartime film fans will find this film absolutely ridiculous. Even taken hyperbolically, the film falls well short of obvious comparisons to the “The Dirty Dozen” or “Inglorious Bastards.” But Guy Ritchie doesn’t need the realistic fight scene bravado, protagonist tension or a razor sharp script to deliver an entertaining tribute to the valor of secret special forces. He just needs to yell “action.”

““The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare,”” is playing in theaters with a runtime of two hours, and is rated R for strong violence, language and a disturbing distortion of “let’s party.”

City attorney by day, Friday Film Review critic by night.