Guy Ritchie returns to what he does best; British heist/crime/mob thrillers with The Gentlemen. The film stars Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Pearson, an American living in London who has one of the most successful marijuana businesses in the country. The problem is he wants out and seeks to sell it to the top bidder. When word gets out, saboteurs trying to drive down his asking price start crawling out of all orifices all over England. No one can be trusted including an unscrupulous PI, Fletcher (Hugh Grant) who makes a pitch of a different kind to Mickey’s right hand man, Ray (Charlie Hunnam). The Gentlemen settles in for your typical Guy Ritchie film which is in the same vein as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. That is a good thing.
In non-linear story telling, short of Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie is one of the best. As a fan of his other British crime films, I understood what he was going for and although The Gentlemen is not as good as the aforementioned films, it is a solid piece of filmmaking. Cleverly written by Ritchie himself with some help on the story by Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies, The Gentlemen lets these characters cut loose and surprisingly against character type, Hugh Grant is lovably sleazy as a PI but is as big of a crook as the rest of the characters in the film. Ritchie knows he has a tremendous cast and he makes good use of their talents.
Charlie Hunnam, who worked with Ritchie in the umpteenth remake of King Arthur from 2017, which was not nearly as bad as some claimed it was, is interesting as Ray, Mickey’s consigliere, of sorts. He is a loyal man who backs Mickey up no matter what and Hunnam is perfect in this role. Colin Farrell has some fun as Coach, a fighter who owns a gym and has made quite a name for himself around London as a man not to be trifled with. He tries to make everyone a better fighter, even teenage muggers. Throw in the seedy Matthew (Jeremy Strong) and a psychotic thug named Dry Eye (Henry Golding) and you have a real collection of funny but hardened criminals.
The Gentlemen is a rather busy film with a few subplots that add some flavor to the story. It does suffer in some of its pacing but the smartness of the dialogue and the colorful characters get you through any lags in pacing. The script is smart and it has respect for the characters who are likewise smart. It also respects the audience sticking with the story which is all over the place, but intentionally so. If you are looking for a wall to wall action film, The Gentlemen is not your bag. There is some action but this is primarily a character study of some very bad but amusing people.
The Gentlemen is not going to win any awards for originality but Ritchie knows what he wants to do and what he wants out of the material. On these notes, The Gentlemen is a saucy, eclectic mix of crime and comedy. It is hip, intelligent and does not take itself too seriously and it makes the film fun to watch. It is loaded with a lot of bad language so it is most definitely not for the young ones, but adults can watch and enjoy Guy Ritchie in his element.
The Gentlemen – ***3/4 out of 5
The Gentlemen – Rated R for language, violence, gore and adult situations
The Gentlemen – Run time 113 minutes
The Gentlemen is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations.