Starring Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Henry Golding, Colin Farrell, Eddie Marsan
Filmmaker Guy Ritchie cleanses his palate after serving up flying carpets and magic lamps returning to familiarity in “The Gentlemen.” The colorful wordsmith pours generous helpings of ironic expletives, some even stirred with racial slurs that are defended on screen. Ritchie is quite good at creating splashy characters that feel like video game personalities with distinct dossiers. It’s what he uses those characters for in the narrative that typically isn’t as prolific. Following his villainous turn in “Paddington 2” that had some calling for an Oscar nomination, Hugh Grant’s “filthy fantasist” delivers a 90-min prologue that grows more entertaining as the minutes tread on. “Aladdin” might be the most simplistic and straight forward story Ritchie ever told, because his filmography is full of scripts with too many characters and exhausting editing.
Mickey Pearson (McConaughey) has evolved into the mac-daddy of marijuana production in Britain with secret labs and a savvy business operation. He is looking to cash out and American billionaire Matthew Berger (Strong) is his choice to take over. However, the over eager Dry Eye (Golding), under-boss of a rival gang, has different ideas. Berger is keen on the $400 million dollar price tag, at least, until one of the secret locations is exposed and robbed. Which is where the tracksuit wearing MMA coach (Farrell) comes in. What’s more interesting is how Fletcher (Grant), a private investigator, knows all this undisclosed information about multiple parties and is now relaying it to Pearson’s right hand gun Raymond (Hunnam), demanding $20 million for silence.
If swear words make you chuckle, then "The Gentlemen" and all it’s irony should prove quite entertaining.
Talk is cheap as they say, and Fletcher’s exaggerated retelling, and Ritchie keeps us interested by illustrating the tales more violent moments. “Wait, wait, wait…” Raymond interjects, “that’s not how Pearson operates.” Then we see the same scene reconfigured with the less violent, more plausible scenario, and the story continues. The bulk of the film is Fletcher telling a story, which relegates McConaughey to more of a supporting character, despite his poster and top billing. McConaughey is, (surprise), the cool, calm, collected, and less colorful character in the bunch. Dockery (“Downton Abbey”) is spared a few lines and a couple of moments in a sea of returning Ritche cast favorites playing similar roles.
If swear words make you chuckle, then “The Gentlemen” and all it’s irony should prove quite entertaining. Ritchie’s screenplay does have a few plot twists, but the overall focus on one drug gang feuding with another drug gang is overdone. Some unintended irony occurs when Pearson scolds his heroin competitor (Lord George), making a case that weed doesn’t kill anyone, yet “The Gentlemen” is chock full of people dying over cannabis. “It’s the new gold rush,” Pearson quips. While “The Gentlemen” is anything but gentlemanly, Ritchie’s “Kingsman” alternative isn’t sure footed or enduring. Tolerable might be the most appropriate compliment.
"The Gentlemen" is a return to familiarity for Ritchie from casting, to violence and subject matter.