With The Gentlemen, writer and director Guy Ritchie seems to have a chip on his shoulder. He may be trying to prove that he can still go back to his crime thriller comedy roots like his classic films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch after working on blockbusters such as King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Aladdin. Also, Ritchie himself has been the target of invasive paparazzi press over the years so he puts in some truly hateful tabloid journalists in The Gentlemen to be mercilessly mocked. Does Ritchie manage to go back to his badass roots? Mostly, sorta. The Gentlemen isn’t as good as his early movies but, to be fair, not much is.
This is still a funny ride full of zingers, bullets, and hollering. It’s even made by Miramax, the production house behind multiple crime dramas in the ’90s. It’s never explained who the titular gentlemen are and could be a reference to Mickey trying go respectable or really anybody. Hell, the movie could have been called Guy Ritchie Finally Makes Another Crime Dramedy After Aladdin and it would have gotten the point across.
Mickey (Matthew McConaughey) is a producer of marijuana in England but wants to retire so he offers to sell his operation to the smarmy Matthew (Jeremy Strong), despite the objections of Mickey’s wife, Rosalind (Michelle Dockery). Mickey has also attracted the attention of a tabloid publisher Big Dave (Eddie Marsan) and a paparazzi Fletcher (Hugh Grant). Fletcher finds Mickey’s assistant, Ray (Charlie Hunnam) and relates a tale of gunfire, betrayal and double crosses as Fletcher tries to blackmail them. Mickey’s actions draws attention from all sides, from an up and coming gangster Dry Eye (Henry Golding) and a local Coach (Colin Farrell) who gets caught up in the crazy shenanigans and it’s very probable not everyone will make it out in one piece.
Trying to follow the plot is an exercise in futility. As intricately plotted as Ritchie’s crime dramas are, it’s ultimately irrelevant. The main point is a lot of speeches, snappy dialogue, cool and crazy moments. There’re more than a few times that the movie will flat out break with reality for some stylistic flourishes, like when a particularly obscure bit of British slang gets subtitles, or a random music video interlude made by rapping criminals. There’s a nice progression of things going wrong throughout the film. A break in to Mickey’s pot growing operation it starts off as the crooks are laughing at one guy and then more bruisers walk in until it gets crazy. One awesome bit goes extreme with some graphic puking while Mickey does a super–intense rant as the music swells, making the moment both very silly and freaky. A scene with Ray confronting a bunch of junkies bounces between witty and extremely menacing leading to Ray being incredibly irritated as he chases some punk kids who snapped pictures on their phone.
McConaughey basically plays the smartest, coolest and most vicious guy around, a type he has done a lot of but he has it down solidly. Hunnam as the second in command has a lot of funny and badass moments. Ray spends a chunk of the movie listening to Fletcher natter on and Hunnam shows that Ray is mostly annoyed being stuck with this guy. Dockery as the wife gets to do a bit more than generally sidelined ladies are in Ritchie’s crime movies but she is still eventually victimized to make the hero feel bad. Marsan and Strong as the two heavies growl with conviction whenever they’re around. The crazier threat is Golding’s crook who is described as “a millennial firework” and he gets to be nasty. The best random side character is Farrell as the Coach who gets stuck doing grunt work. Farrell is straight up hilarious and has lots of amazing moments, like a whole bit he goes off about a guy named Phuc telling him “Okay, Phuc calm the Phuc down!” and a scene where he gets a one on one with Big Dave is jaw droppingly shocking. V
Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Lyne Renee, Colin Farrell, and Henry Golding