The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is a 2024 spy action comedy film directed, co-written and co-produced by Guy Ritchie, and starring Henry Cavill, Eiza González, Alan Ritchson, Henry Golding and Alex Pettyfer.

Based on the 2014 book Churchill's Secret Warriors: The Explosive True Story of the Special Forces Desperadoes of WWII by Damien Lewis, the film portrays a heavily fictionalised version of Operation Postmaster.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare
The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGuy Ritchie
Screenplay by
Based onChurchill's Secret Warriors: The Explosive True Story of the Special Forces Desperadoes of WWII
by Damien Lewis
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyEd Wild
Edited byJames Herbert
Music byChristopher Benstead
Production
companies
Distributed byLionsgate
Release dates
  • April 13, 2024 (2024-04-13) (New York City)
  • April 19, 2024 (2024-04-19) (United States)
Running time
120 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$60 million
Box office$24.3 million

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare had its premiere on April 13, 2024, in New York and was released in the United States on April 19, 2024.

Plot

In late 1941, during World War II the United Kingdom is struggling to halt Nazi Germany's attempts to take over Europe, with London regularly suffering bombing runs at the hands of the Luftwaffe. With their supply and aid ships constantly sunk by German submarines, Brigadier Colin Gubbins, with the indirect backing of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, prepares to initiate Operation Postmaster, an off the books black-ops sabotage mission intended to disrupt the Nazis' U-boat resupply operation on the Spanish-controlled island Fernando Po. While SOE agents Marjorie Stewart and Richard Heron depart by train, Gubbins enlists Gus March-Phillips to assemble a ground team to destroy the Italian supply ship Duchessa d'Aosta and two tugboats attached to it.

Using the neutral Swedish fishing trawler Maid of Honor, Gus and his allies, Graham Hayes, Freddy Alvarez, and Danish naval officer Anders Lassen (the only non-British subject to be awarded the Victoria Cross), begin the slow sail to Fernando Po. Upon discovering that SOE saboteur Geoffrey Appleyard, whom Gubbins had sent ahead on the assumption that Gus would show interest in wanting him on the team, was captured by Gestapo agents, they divert course to a Nazi-controlled section of the Canary Islands for a rescue mission.

Meanwhile, arriving early on Fernando Po, Marjorie and Heron use the latter's 'illegal' gambling hall to recruit backup for Gus' team while Marjorie seduces Heinrich Luhr, the SS commander in charge. Upon learning that the Duchessa intends to depart three days ahead of schedule, Gus has his crew sail through a British naval blockade of Nazi-occupied West Africa despite knowing they'll be arrested should their unauthorized mission be discovered.

On the night of the intended raid, Marjorie and Heron learn that Luhr has had the Duchessa's hull reinforced despite the Italian attache's reservations. Barely warned of this in time, Gus and Appleyard decide that their best course of action is to hijack the ships and use them as a bartering chip after a mole in Gubbins' staff reveals the mission to senior command. Although Luhr eventually catches on when Marjorie's act begins to 'slip', the raid is ultimately successful, and Marjorie shoots Luhr in the head. Delivering the boats to a British fleet outside Lagos, the team is nonetheless arrested. While waiting to be court-martialed, they are saved and recruited by Churchill as part of his 'Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare', as their actions have not only severely damaged the Nazis' naval strength, but also have allowed the United States, who recently entered the war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, to join the European theatre.

A montage of details before the end credits reveal the post operation activities of several protagonists: Gus became a war hero and would helm several similar raids during the war before marrying Marjorie at the start of her acting career; Appleyard would receive several commendations for his role in the mission, much to the king's amusement; Hayes would go on to become a highly accomplished spy notable for surviving a year of Nazi torture without breaking; Lassen would go on to take part in raids outside the group until his death in 1945; Ian Fleming, who had been part of Gubbins' inner circle during this time, would use Operation Postmaster as the inspirational basis for his James Bond novels.

Cast

Production

Paramount Pictures acquired the rights to Damien Lewis's book The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: How Churchill's Secret Warriors Set Europe Ablaze and Gave Birth to Modern Black Ops in 2015. Guy Ritchie signed on to direct the project in February 2021, from a script by Arash Amel, with Jerry Bruckheimer producing the film. In October 2022, Henry Cavill and Eiza González were set to star, with Paramount no longer involved and Black Bear International now handling sales for the project. In February 2023, additional casting including Alan Ritchson, Henry Golding, Alex Pettyfer and Cary Elwes was announced.

Principal photography began on February 13, 2023, in Antalya, Turkey, and wrapped up in April 2023.

The day filming began, it was announced Lionsgate had acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film, planning to give it a wide release in 2024, and that select international distribution rights had been sold to Amazon Prime Video.

Release

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare had its premiere on April 13, 2024, in New York and was released in the United States on April 19, 2024, by Lionsgate. It was released on premium video on demand services on May 10, 2024.

Reception

Box office

In the United States, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare was released alongside Abigail and Spy × Family Code: White, and was projected to gross $5–8 million from 2,845 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $3.7 million on its first day, including $1.45 million from previews. It went on to debut to $9 million, finishing fourth behind Civil War, Abigail, and Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. In its second weekend it dropped 57% to gross $3.86 million, finishing sixth.

Critical response

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 69% of 130 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The website's consensus reads: "Cranking up a true story of derring-do into a high-octane action flick that's heavy on spectacle if not suspense, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is another solid entry into Guy Ritchie's pantheon." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 57 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "mixed or average" reviews. Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale, while those polled by PostTrak gave it an 88% positive score.


References

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