Guy Ritchie has signed on to write and direct WWII film Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare for Paramount Pictures. Deadline broke with the story that Ritchie joined the project based on Damien Lewis’ novel Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: How Churchill’s Secret Warriors Set Europe Ablaze and Gave Birth to Modern Black Ops, which Paramount has held the rights to since a 2015 bidding war. The film will be produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Chad Oman of Jerry Bruckheimer Films, as well as executive produced by Ritchie’s frequent collaborator, Ivan Atkinson. Vanessa Joyce, Paramount’s Senior VP of Production, will oversee the entire project.
Arash Amel (A Private War, Greek Freak) has scribed the latest draft of the adapted screenplay while writing-duo Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson (The Fighter) are acknowledged to have penned an earlier one. If the adaptation should adhere to Lewis’ 2014 book, the story will tell of Britain’s first black-ops unit (of sorts) commissioned by PM Winston Churchill in 1939, as a way to gain the upper hand in the fight against Nazism. The black-ops unit fought dirtily, breaking all the rules of previously accepted European-warfare. Its soldiers struck behind enemy lines with full knowledge that they would most likely not return home and that their government would publicly deny any affiliation with them.
This action-packed and scarcely known history of WWII has begun a swirl of excitement, mostly in regard to Ritchie’s potential to produce another gem for the British gangster genre. Some of his most beloved, signature films include: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Snatch (2000), Sherlock Holmes (2009), and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015). He recently and uncharacteristically directed the live-action Aladdin (2019), starring Will Smith, which turned into a box-office hit, but has since returned to his grittier roots with The Gentleman (2019) starring Matthew McConaughey. Also on the Guy Ritchie radar is the upcoming action-thriller Five Eyes, a reunion for the director and actor Jason Statham.