Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) has spent many years building and running the perfect marijuana business by using the estates of Britain’s wealthiest families. Feeling he has accomplished everything he needs to in the crime game, Pearson is ready to sell the business and ready to spend more time with his wife Ros (Michelle Dockery). Things start to get extremely complicated when he starts courting a potential buyer (Jeremy Strong) as a Chinese gangster (Henry Golding), a local youth gym owner (Colin Farrell), a tabloid editor (Eddie Marsan) and a sneaky private eye (Hugh Grant) keep hindering his goal. How will he and loyal right-hand man, Raymond (Charlie Hunnam), cope?
Guy Ritchie’s had an eventful few years in Hollywood. 2019’s Aladdin was a box-office and satisfactory critical success – despite general feelings on the Disney animated remake factory. Though King Arthur and The Man from UNCLE are fairly forgettable. Ritchie hasn’t hit a real high since the last Sherlock Holmes outing back in 2011. Holmes is one of the few films to help establish Ritchie as a solid genre director. You could probably imagine Ritchie’s delight in being able to come home, recharge his batteries and return to his roots with a good old crime caper. That’s where The Gentlemen comes in.
Considering its fairly quiet arrival into cinemas at the start of 2020, and its impending release in America, The Gentlemen certainly presents itself like a palette cleanser for Ritchie. He feels right at home in a genre he’s helped put front and centre in UK cinema thanks to his earlier hits of Lock, Stock and Snatch. The Gentlemen will really appeal to those who have enjoyed Guy Ritchie’s criminal escapades over the years. His usual trademarks from his early days are there. Copious amounts of creative swearing, childish behaviour, ludicrous criminal enterprises and continuous plot twists that you’ll expect. If you’ve never really got into Ritchie’s dabbling of British crime, The Gentlemen is not going to do one ounce of good to change your mind about his style and his storytelling. This is for the die-hard fans of the filmmaker only.
Although, in comparison to the previous crime capers, this one feels more restrained and somewhat matured. His previous cheeky gangster capers have always come across loud, in your face and usually overstuffed with characters. This is reversed for The Gentlemen. There are only a few players, it’s quiet – until things hit that proverbial fan, and comes across as a classy, dignified affair. It’s a welcome change of pace but it still doesn’t disguise The Gentlemen’s frequent dips into sheer childish behaviour and absurdity.
Fronting this Ritchie caper is Matthew McConaughey, who is his usual chilled self. You may think he’s far too calm at times but though I think that’s how the role is supposed to be. It’s often referred to in the film that he’s the king of the jungle in this cinematic circle of gangs. Of course, he looks it. Wavy mame like hair, expensive tweed suits, happy to issue commands yet remaining calm and collective. Only getting ferociously loud and violent when the need arises or if there’s any threat at all to his wife. Apart from those explosive parts, it’s your standard McConaughey cooled performance.
It’s a few of the supporting characters that make more of a louder impact in the film. Charlie Hunnam might be restrained as McConaughey’s right-hand man, Ray, but he demonstrates some memorable moments of sheer intimidation in one set piece requiring his character to find a missing heiress. Colin Farrell makes the most of his role as Coach, a stern, foul-mouthed, yet good-natured youth boxing trainer whose students cause more problems for McConaughey. Farrell seemingly playing a reverse of his previous gangster roles, he detests violence and crime but knows how to pay his dues when his students out of a sticky mess.
However, unsurprisingly, it’s Hugh Grant that steals the film. Here, Grant is clearly having a ball playing a sleazy tabloid paparazzi; possibly mixing his own frustrations of the tabloid press into his portrayal of Fletcher. It’s a strange audiovisual scene to imagine Grant happily spouting Ritchie’s swear fest but he takes to it easily. Throw in Fletcher’s sheer ridiculous scheme of blackmailing McConaughey and Hunnam’s characters with not only photos, recordings but a film script too and you have one of Ritchie’s more extravagant but memorable characters. Hugh Grant continues to be interesting to watch post-rom-com career and The Gentlemen is another notch on the resume.
As I wrote earlier in the review, The Gentlemen is a palette cleanser. A solid, if unremarkable, one at that. It’s not the same iconic levels of Lock Stock or Snatch but enjoyable for Ritchie fans. It’s those fans who’ll watch it get reminded of the creative cursing Ritchie can litter in his scripts, revel in Hugh Grant being cheeky and slimy, be swept up in the restrained coolness of McConaughey, and have a giggle or two at the absurdity of it all. I enjoyed the film for what it was and it made for a pleasant night out at the cinema.
For everyone else who hasn’t enjoyed a Guy Ritchie crime caper, you can comfortably skip this one.
The Gentlemen is at UK cinemas nationwide now and arrives in the US on January 24th.
Want to brush up on your Guy Ritchie? Why not pick up a copy of one of his films on Blu-Ray below with our Amazon links?
By purchasing through these links, Bunkazilla may earn a commission that goes straight back into our operating costs. It’s a simple way to support Bunkazilla. For more information, read our affiliate policy.