January 20, 2020

GENRE | Guy Ritchie Rounds Up 'The Gentlemen'

"It's not enough to act like the king. You must be the king."
Charlie Hunnam Colin Farrell Guy Ritchie | The Gentlemen
STX Films / VVS Films
Filmmaker Guy Ritchie retreads his British crime story roots to tell another gangster yarn framed as a tabloidy movie script about drug kingpins and underworld crime bosses entangled in a turf war. The Gentlemen actually feels overly cleverly told as Ritchie plays with typical narrative troupes to unfold a stylish actio-comedy meets crime drama full of stars.

Starring a self-serious Matthew McConaughey and cool Charlie Hunnam as Mickey and Raymond, an American marijuana kingpin in England and his capable underboss, it's actually Hugh Grant who tells the story as a sleazy investigator looking to blackmail our main characters. There's an abundance of charisma and screen presence wrapped around colourful characters and thicker accents.

Insert Michelle Dockery as Mickey's ruthless wife and Henry Golding as an unpredictable rival (called "Dry Eye", no less) and the cast elevates the basic story. Jeremy Strong and Colin Farrell also class up the joint as an effeminate business mogul and boxing coach of street hoods to round out the fun ensemble of offbeat criminals.

Ritchie revels in explicit references to pulpy crime films with nods to celluloid, filmmaking techniques, multiple perspectives, and gangster rivalries to keep audiences on their feet and maintain interest in the well-worn genre. However, the very lazy, dated, and tired jokes or gags about Asian gangster stereotypes were so completely cringe-worthy and unnecessary never mind being unfunny.

The Gentlemen is middling fun but overdoes it when it comes to the playful story mechanics. We know there will be twists and turns where events presented aren't as they seem and narration gets undone once a bigger picture is revealed. However, it's nice to see Ritchie return to the tried and true material of his early films while brining an experienced studio polish to the film's cinematic style.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire / Variety

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