From director Guy Ritchie, The Gentlemen follows American ex-pat Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) who, having built a highly profitable marijuana empire in London, is attempting to sell off his highly profitable business to Cannabis Kingpin Mathew (Jeremy Strong). But when word gets out that he’s looking to cash out of the business forever it triggers plots, schemes, bribery and blackmail in an attempt to steal his domain out from under him.
An Englishman, an Irishman, and an American walk into a bar… and their story instantly becomes a classic.
With Guy Ritchie returning to familiar home ground, The Gentlemen follows an easy-to-follow but compact narrative that is full of absurd twists, constant deceptions, wild confrontations, and plenty of the C-word. Snappy and full of wit, the story unfolds through Hugh Grant‘s Fletcher who chronicles a madly tangled story, using the classic Ritchie formula of having many overlapping plots that involve different groups of characters who each have their part to play.
As the events of a master scheme slowly unravels, The Gentlemen is an immensely entertaining crime action that you can easily sit back and enjoy. It is a Brit gangster caper that most definitely lives up to Ritchie’s past filmography, with the style and class of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., but also the bravado and chaos of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.
It’s rare that you go to the cinema and laugh wholeheartedly at even a stereotypical comedy these days, but what The Gentleman achieves most of all is to bring the whole audience together, whether you’re laughing out loud in discomfort, shock, or just because it is a purely hilarious escapade. It’s certainly a film that will appeal to many audiences and leave little to be criticised.
The cast is on top form, too. Hugh Grant‘s seedy but equally menacing journalist leads the narrative with a camp humour that I could watch tell any story, whilst Charlie Hunnam‘s effortless performance is the definition of the film’s title. Matthew McConaughey also makes the most of one of his best roles in a long while, and Jeremy Strong and Colin Farrell are excellent additions, too.
For me, it’s Henry Golding and Michelle Dockery who deserve a standout mention, though, as they both show a grittier side that we haven’t seen from them before, suiting the film incredibly well. With Ritchie giving Dockery a more prominent role in the film, as well, I think it’s obvious that he’s a director who listens to critics’ and audiences’ general reactions to films, ensuring that she wasn’t just a background female character or one over-used with little relevance just to make a point.
Although this film does feel very similar to the likes of Lock Stock and Snatch, Ritchie has also obviously paid a lot of attention to some of his more stereotypical late ’90s filmmaking characteristics, which would have stood out as being outdated if he had simply relied on what he knows best. Instead, The Gentlemen includes many modern tweaks, as Ritchie creates a film that feels fresh, full of energy, and passionately crafted.
Whilst Ritchie certainly has some ups and downs in his filmography, when he does it right, his films are some of the few that you can enjoy without any doubts or compromises, and that you instantly want to watch again. The Gentlemen is certainly of that quality, and even though it is the first new release of 2020 that I’ve seen, it will undoubtedly remain one of my favourites for the rest of the year.