MOVIES

The Best & Worst Of Guy Ritchie In One Thrill-Ride

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” has an ensemble cast, and most of the characters only get a brief introduction — they’re sharing limited screen time, so it’s really up to the actors to make the most of it. Some do, and some don’t. Unfortunately, the script squanders some of its best opportunities for character-building. For example, they refer to Freddie (Henry Golding) as being miserable to be around unless he has something to blow up, but then they don’t actually do anything with that tidbit of personality they’ve just established. He’s just kind of a generic charming guy (Golding’s specialty, we fear). Henry Cavill plays Gus March-Phillips, the leader of the group who absolutely cannot be ruffled. This is Cavill in his “auditioning for James Bond” mode — which makes sense, since March-Phillips was reportedly one of Ian Fleming’s sources of inspiration when he wrote the character. We know this in part because Fleming himself makes an appearance in a supporting role (played by Freddie Fox of “Slow Horses”) as one of the operatives back in London working with the team. And if you thought Guy Ritchie wouldn’t include the character introducing himself as, “Fleming. Ian Fleming,” well, you just don’t know the director at all, do you?

Although some of the ensemble cast members fade into the background fairly easily, others make an immediate impression. Alan Ritchson, best known for his work as the hulking star of “Jack Reacher,” is clearly having the time of his life as Anders Lassen, a Danish soldier particularly skilled with a bow and arrow. Most importantly, he fills the crucial role often occupied by Dave Bautista of the giant man in tiny glasses. Although he doesn’t get more screen time than the other members of the ministry, he wrings a madcap sense of humor from Lassen’s bloodthirsty antics, cheery and quick with a smile even as he effortlessly mows down German soldiers. Babs Olusanmokun as Mr. Heron and Eiza González as Marjorie Stewart are a tremendous double act as the two operatives based in Fernando Po. Together, they lay the groundwork for the mission while attempting to evade the suspicion of Nazi officials, especially the sadistic Heinrich Luhr (played by Til Schweiger, who many may recognize as the legendary Hugo Stiglitz in “Inglourious Basterds”). Although González, notably the only woman in the core cast, is trapped in the disappointingly regressive role of the seducer, she brings a spark, intelligence, and resiliency to Marjorie that makes her more than just a vixen whose primary purpose is to glitter on screen.

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