In “The Gentlemen,” an American expat looks to get out of the drug game by selling off his highly sophisticated and profitable marijuana business. Smelling weakness, rivals come out of the woodwork to try to steal it from him.
Pro – Cool
Director Guy Ritchie always brings a trademark flair and panache to his films. It’s almost as if his films are shot inside an issue of “GQ Magazine.” In “The Gentlemen,” this is on full display. Tailored suits, amazing homes, expensive booze, and all manner of finery abound in every shot. It’s certainly not realistic, but as a modern criminal fairy tale, it watches as a guilty pleasure. Ritchie has meticulously curated the film to look, sound, and feel cool. It all may seem a bit too polished, too forced, but it’s captivating and appealing enough to avoid arousing those feelings.
Pro – Acting
The acting in “The Gentlemen” is generally fantastic. In addition, Ritchie gives his actors plenty to do and say to accentuate their roles. Matthew McConaughey is the star, playing pot kingpin Mickey Pearson, an American born expat who used his charm and illegal millions to ingratiate himself to the British aristocracy. It’s a perfect role for McConaughey in this “Lincoln car” part of his career, and he’s paired brilliantly with Michelle Dockery who plays his sophisticated, yet hard wife. Charlie Hunnam, of “Son’s of Anarchy” fame is great as Pearson’s right-hand man. Of course, much of the attention will deservedly go to Hugh Grant and Colin Farrell who both play the type of incredibly fun and quirky characters who inhabit all of Ritchie’s best films. Grant especially flies way outside of his normal range to play the charming yet “cringy” investigative journalist Fletcher.
Neutral – Guy Ritchie’d
If much of this review has been about director Guy Ritchie, it’s because “The Gentlemen” is unapologetically a Guy Ritchie film. It is a return to his violent yet darkly funny gangster film roots of classics “Lock, Stock,” “Two Smoking Barrels,” and “Snatch.” Depending on how you feel about those films, you’ll have a pretty good idea of where “The Gentlemen” will line up for you.
It asks you to root for an anti-hero against other bad guys, who may or may not be worse than the protagonist. It’s saturated with pithy dialogue and quips, flashbacks, and fake-outs, and tons of British slang and language, including an immense love of a rather unpopular American curse word. Throw in some ultra-violent outbursts, and it’s sure to be off-putting to some. On the other hand, those that enjoy this trademarked, stylized vision of Ritchie will be delighted to see such a return to form.
“The Gentlemen” absolutely works as a spiritual successor to Ritchie’s other gangster films. It has all the charm and baggage that entails. It knows what is, and who it appeals to, and it doubles down on both. Those looking for the next version of “Snatch” will love this film. Those that have never seen the appeal or value of a Guy Ritchie film won’t find anything new or interesting here. You know what you’re getting, so if this film premise excites you, I suggest minding the gap, hoping on the tube, and heading over to the Fridley Palms Theatre to check it out.