THE GENTLEMEN review – Ritchie Does What He Does Best

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Title: THE GENTLEMEN
MPAA Rating: R
Director:  Guy Ritchie
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan, Colin Farrell, and Hugh Grant
Movie length: 1 hours 53 minutes

What it is: Guy Ritchie’s return to the crime film genre for the first time since 2000’s SNATCH. The film is about a marijuana crime lord (McConaughey) whose right hand man (Hunnam) is approached by Grant’s P.I. character with findings on his dealings that he wrote up as a script.

What Dan thought:  I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. If you’re a fan of Ritchie’s LOCK, STOCK, AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS (which is in my list of all time favorite movies), or SNATCH you will enjoy this one.

The movie is very fast paced and the script that Ritchie along with Ivan Atkinson and Bill Block put together is very much in line with Ritchie’s previous crime movies. There are also a few scenes that gave me a PULP FICTION type feel, which is not a bad thing.

The movie had a movie in a movie type feel, and the star studded cast all were terrific. That being said the performance by Hugh Grant stood out quite well in comparison to his co-stars.

The movie is rated R and for good reason. The violence level is pretty high, and the language is not for those who are easily offended. It is a mostly British cast and the use of the C-word is quite heavy, so if that word offends you in the smallest amount, I’d recommend skipping this movie.

Oh, and there’s a easter egg towards the end of the movie that references one of Ritchie’s previous directorial jobs, which I got a kick out of.

What Alanah thought:

Guy Ritchie has long held the throne in terms of Crime Comedy for many. His films tend to be chock full of sweeping jump-cuts, excellent ensemble casts, rapid-fire music cues, and action-packed monologue scenes that would make any other director cry. Given recent departures from his typical winning formula (can I get an agonized wail re: Aladdin, anyone?), I can say with great pleasure that Ritchie has crafted an instant classic once more. 

The Gentlemen is a delightfully nonchalant film about various drug dealers leaping to arms over the chance to inherit a cannabis empire from one very slick and soon-retiring drug dealer, Matthew McConaughey. As if that weren’t compelling enough, the entire film is framed as a pitch for a movie by someone willing to pull the plug on the entire operation.

That’s it. I’m not willing to tell you more. It’s too much fun to spoil for anyone.

Okay, okay, I’ll tell you a tiny bit.

Firstly, I must express joy and awe at the respect for weed on display in this movie. Yes, it is inherently silly to glory in the power and wonder of The Simplest of Highs, but this film takes it as seriously as possible. If you’ve ever wanted to hear A-list actors wax poetic about pot, this is the one for you. In fact, plenty of visuals are clearly placed there purely for the viewer that chooses to toke up before viewing. The beauty and sensuality of smoke backgrounds the opening credits. Fight choreo is amped up with a hell of a score and the dialogue is often laugh-out-loud funny.

It might be easy at first glance of the trailer to disregard this film as a tired showcase of white men making criminal activities look elegant, and that criticism would be fair if it weren’t fully uninformed about the actual content of the film – frankly, Ritchie has never had an issue casting people of color in his films, nor powerful women criminals. It’s refreshing to see a healthy, functional power couple who genuinely love each other in McConaughey’s drug lord Mickey Pearson and his sharp, powerful, business-minded wife, Rosalind (Michelle Dockery). In fact, several aspects of this film play directly counter to expectation and tradition. The loaded ensemble is frequently cast against type in a clever manner. Hugh Grant plays an older, slick and sneaky PI who is probably gay. Charlie Hunnam is slightly more on type as a refined, suited gent who also happens to be the best right-hand man a crimelord could ask for. Colin Farrell is somehow stirringly wholesome as a dad-bodded Actual Nice Guy who cares a great deal about keeping disenfranchised boys in the game and off the streets – he’s willing to get hands dirty only in the name of honor and protecting them. 

It’s worth mentioning one aspect of this film that can’t go ignored – a bevy of racist language is peppered throughout. I agree whole-heartedly with my peers at The Independent that call this movie, “an equal opportunity offender.” There’s actually a surprising and, yes, indecent amount of casual racism in this film, but it bothers less than it would otherwise, somehow. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that these characters are all clearly bad guys. They’re all drug dealers! They’re all comfy with killing! They all fairly racist, but it’s everyone giving and getting, which feels much more authentic than an imagined world where old school drug lords believe in true equality and civil rights.

Dan’s grade: A. All the above being said, as a fan of Ritchie’s crime movies I went into this movie hoping I’d like it…and it not disappoint at all. The movie moves at a terrific action-packed pace with enough character development to keep it going. It also sets up a potential sequel (or does it?)

Alanah’s grade: A-. This film is a great time and I cannot wait to see it again – perhaps while less than sober. 

The movie was released on January 1st 2020 in the United Kingdom, and January 24th 2020 in the United States.

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