Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant and Michelle Dockery lead Guy Ritchie’s return to British gangster movies – and here’s our review.
Guys. Fellas. Geezers. Lads. Get your Mockney accent at the ready, Guy Ritchie’s only gone and got the gang together. After a diversion into the world Disney earlier this year, in the form of the Aladdin remake, Ritchie is back doing the kind of film that brought him to fame in the first place. It’s the kind of British gangster film that he still remains best known for.
The Gentlemen, not to be mistaken or associated with The King’s Man (the Kingsman prequel coming in Autumn 2020) thus features a group of rabble up to no good.
In this instance Ritchie’s brought together one of his best-ever casts. There’s Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant, Henry Golding, Colin Farrell, Eddie Marsan, Jeremy Strong and Charlie Hunnam. There’s even a woman, in the form of Michelle Dockery. All of whom appear to be having a whale of a time, spitting out expletive dialogue with a degree of ready-made quotable-ness that will inevitably result in there appearing on a line of T-shirts with immediate effect. Some of these lines are funnier and more effective than others, notably the utilisation of the c-bomb, which probably wins the award for most appearances in the film. Sometimes it lands, sometimes it misses.
It should be noted that amongst this usually amusing dialogue, there is some casual racism, aimed at Henry Golding’s gangster-on-the-rise Dry Eye, which feels hugely ill-advised and detractive. These moments remove you from the action and threaten to make something glaringly obvious, that’s there’s not much more going on in the film aside from the dialogue that on occasion comes across as believing it’s funnier and cleverer than it really is. Because, aside from great actors providing over-the-top performances that are mostly fun to watch, there’s not all that much else going on in the film.
Fundamentally the story is that of American expat Mickey Pearson (a solid Matthew McConaughey) who is looking for someone to take over his hugely profitable marijuana empire based in London. There’s all manner of interest and threats, with it becoming increasingly difficult to identify one from the other. That’s the story, not even in a nutshell.
An attempt to add depth to proceedings is how the story is plotted. The Gentlemen uses a frame narrative, with sleazy private investigator Fletcher (Hugh Grant providing a top tier performance) informing Pearson’s second-in-command Raymond (a pretty good turn by Charlie Hunnam) of his latest discoveries. As a result, the plot zig-zags between past and present. You get unreliable narrators, fourth wall breask, twists, turns and the occasional retelling. When these moments work, they work reasonably well. When they don’t, they feel contrived and rather needless.
That being said, there’s enough fuel in the tank to keep the film pumping away, and it’s a decent enough romp. A solid enough way to while away nearly two hours at the cinema. For fans of Guy Ritche’s earlier work, particularly Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, there’s much of the same to enjoy, if not at the level of either. You do, too, get a rather great Man From U.N.C.L.E. Easter egg to keep an eye out for. You can’t accuse Ritchie of not playing to his fanbase…
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