The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare parents guide: Should your little gentlemen skip this movie?

Guy Ritchie is back with a movie you absolutely won't believe is based on a true story, but it is.
The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare
The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare /

Director Guy Ritchie recently tore up Netflix with his spinoff series The Gentlemen. And now, mere weeks later he’s back with ungentlemen in the new theatrical movie The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.

Based on the book Churchill's Secret Warriors: The Explosive True Story of the Special Forces Desperadoes of WWII by Damien Lewis, the shockingly true story focuses on what might be the world’s first Black Ops unit as they pulled off a stealth mission from the British government to take down a Nazi freighter during World War II. Not only that, but the main character Gus March-Phillips (Henry Cavill) may have served as Ian Fleming’s inspiration for James Bond. Oh, and Fleming (Freddie Fox) is in the movie, so there’s that, too.

The plot follows Cavill putting together a ragtag crew – a dirty half-dozen, if you will – to sail down the coast of Africa and destroy a Nazi freighter which is holding supplies for all the German U-Boats. The reasoning goes if they can destroy that, it’ll break the blockade preventing the United States from joining the war against Germany. While Cavill’s boat sails down the coast with a few violent side trips, two spies for the British government are making sure the port is ready for them – and they can elude the Nazis at the same time.

Look, you probably know at this point what you’re getting into with a Guy Ritchie film… But I promise, this is a very different mode for the filmmaker, even if you have a bunch of dudes doing action stuff. There’s still a large ensemble cast anchored by Cavill. But you’ve also got name actors like Alan Ritchson (from Prime Video’s Reacher) playing the best archer since Hawkeye, Eiza González (recently in Netflix’s 3 Body Problem) as the singing dame with a gun, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds star Babs Olusanmokun as a character who it’s definitely inferred inspired Casablanca, and a bunch more.

Basically: you’ve got stars; you’ve got big action; you’ve got a true story that invariably started with “so you’re not going to believe this, but” in a million conversations throughout the past several decades. So there’s every chance your kids might want to check this one out.

But should you take your little gentlemen and gentlewomen to see this movie?

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare Parents Guide: Explaining The R Rating

THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE - Eiza González as Marjorie Stewart /

I don’t know if I mentioned this, but: this is an R-Rated Guy Ritchie movie. This is not Marvel with its PG-13, nor is it even the level of the DC movies Cavill starred in as Superman. So, let’s get into what to expect.

Sex & Nudity: There is one scene where we see what looks like a shadowy, nude body that’s been beaten by the main Nazi baddie. But you really don’t see anything except the curve of the body. As for sex, there are more intimations than anything else. Gonzalez’s Marjorie Stewart is explicitly brought on to seduce the main Nazi, but other than a few slinky, exposing dresses she wears to keep him distracted, there’s not much actual sexual content.

Violence: This is definitely where the movie gets its rating. The violence takes a little break in the middle while Cavill’s crew is just, you know, sailing. But from the very first scene to the explosive finish hundreds of Nazis get shot, throats slit, blown up, shot with arrows, chopped to bits with axes… It just doesn’t stop. In addition, our bad guy threatens Gonzalez’s character with torture at one point, though you don’t get to see it. However, and this might seem contradictory, other than a few instances you don’t see gushing wounds. And Alan Ritchson getting completely covered in blood multiple times is played a recurring joke. It’s all… Tasteful, I guess? The violence is big, but mostly doesn’t feel exploitative or over the top.

Language: I am shocked to report that I don’t think there was a single curse word in this movie? I may have missed one, but part of the tone of the film is that despite Cavill’s crew being crass louts, they are all very courteous and address each other formally.

Drinking & Drugs: A fair amount of drinking in the film, starting with when Cavill is released from prison and pours himself a big ol’ glass of scotch. There’s also a bunch of smoking throughout.

Overall Verdict: What Age Is The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare Appropriate For?

There’s a lot of killing and blood in here, as mentioned, but I actually don’t think this would be inappropriate for anyone over the age of 13. Who knows exactly how much of this is true or where liberties have been taken (stories tend to grow over time/when they are made into movies), but this is a wild bit of history that Ritchie clearly posits as the inspiration for a dozen different films and filmic tropes. If you’ve got a kid who likes action movies, doesn’t mind some blood, and is interested in either world history or film history, this is definitely one to check out.

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