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The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

"If Hitler isn't playing by the rules, then neither shall we."

Otherwise known as a tamer Inglourious Basterds. It even has Til Schweiger!

I almost called this a more family friendly version of Tarantino’s film, or a more fun version, but it’s not entirely accurate. We’re still firmly in Rated-R territory, and while Ministry is definitely more popcorn fun, Inglourious Basterds holds a darker, more sadistic pleasure to it. I don’t mean any of these comparisons in a bad way either. I’m not trying to insult this movie or give it a backhanded compliment.

What we have is a very fun, surprisingly bloody, pulp adventure movie about shooting a bunch of Nazis and blowing things up that just happens to also be based on a true story of Operation Postmaster. (Which may have inspired Ian Fleming’s depiction of James Bond.) While not entirely historically accurate – what “based on a true story” movie is? – there’s enough details there to add an extra sense of wonder to it.

There’s very little complexity here, and no shades of gray. The bad guys are either inept Nazis or they’re charming, psychopathic Nazis. The good guys are beefy and slightly unhinged. The women... well, okay, there’s really only one female character of any note, but it’s Eiza Gonz├ílez so she’s absolutely gorgeous. And she sings! She actually sings very well.

The entire cast is great, but I specifically have to highlight Alan Ritchson as Anders Lassen. He is both the beefiest and the most unhinged, and there’s just a joy in watching him in any of the movie’s many action scenes. It’s fun when everyone in the theater giggles in anticipation when he picks up an ax in the middle of a fight with a grin. The best compliment I could pay an actor is if they make me want to see other stuff that they’ve been in, and he made me want to sit down and watch Reacher. He lit up the screen like no one else.

He’s also responsible for most of the blood. An almost discordant amount of blood, really. The overall tone is so light and snappy that Lassen walking up to the group thoroughly splattered with blood is a decent way to get laughs when Henry Cavill just looks at him and nods with an almost bemused tilt of his head. It shocks you more when you actually watch him stab a Nazi in the throat and the camera lingers on the victim as red runs down his neck and between his fingers. Maybe I should have known better going into a Guy Ritchie film, but it caught me off guard given that there’s never really any sense of danger.

There’s some peril, sure, but nothing that kept me on the edge of my seat wondering how our heroes were going to get out of this. I don’t think this is necessarily a critique, as genuine danger would shift the genre into something else, but I still found myself wanting a bit more.

I also wanted a lot more from some of our cast. As I mentioned, they’re all wonderful so the fact that some of them are little more than faces that make a single quip during planning before retreating into essentially furniture was disappointing. Henry Golding and Alex Pettyfer especially suffer from this, although Pettyfer does have one of the better lines involving a car battery.

For the most part, the humor hits. There is a lot of banter, though, and with increased volume comes some diminished quality. I’m not sure why four people got a screenplay credit, but it did feel a tad overwritten at times. Almost Tarantino-esque, which is why I brought him up at the beginning.

It’s easy enough to just let it flow over you, though. It’s meant to be a fun, uncomplicated ride and it succeeds in doing so fabulously.

Random Thoughts

While I love “Mack the Knife” and The Threepenny Opera, there’s no way Luhr, a high ranking German officer, would be listening to it. It was banned soon after Hitler’s rise to power due to Weil, the composer, being a Jew, and Brecht, the writer, being deemed a communist.

Great song, though.

It was nice to have a brief moment at the end displaying the real soldiers' photos and describing what they did after Operation Postmaster. History is just fascinating.

The movie is based on the book Churchill's Secret Warriors: The Explosive True Story of the Special Forces Desperadoes of WWII, by Damien Lewis. This is not the actor Damien Lewis, like I had assumed, but a completely different person.

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An Honest Fangirl loves video games, horror movies, and superheroes, and occasionally manages to put words together in a coherent and pleasing manner.

1 comment:

  1. Fangirl, thanks so much for the review. It sounds like an enjoyable movie and I'll try to catch it.

    I've seen all of Reacher, and it's pretty good. And Ritchson is great as the lead.

    ReplyDelete

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