The Gentlemen movie review: Guy Ritchie delivers a usual solid entertainer at the risk of getting jaded
The Gentlemen puts director Guy Ritchie back in his comfort zone of smooth-talking underworld criminals.
castHugh Grant, Charlie Hunman, Henry Golding, Matthew Mcconaughey, Colin Farrell
After the roller coaster of terribleness that is the first month of 2020, it is finally nice to experience a small sliver of good news – Guy Ritchie is back in form, even if by a very small portion.
His new movie The Gentlemen puts him back in his comfort zone of smooth-talking underworld criminals. Though the film never quite reaches the heights of Lock Stock and Snatch, it is rather nice to sit back and be able to enjoy watching what Ritchie does best.
We are introduced to slimy reporter Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who has some dirt on a major underworld figure and wants to cash in on it. Other criminals around his orbit like Raymond (Charlie Hunnam), who works for crime boss Mickey (Matthew McConaughey), somehow get roped into his movements, setting off a domino effect that involves the crooks Dry Eye (Henry Golding) and Coach (Colin Farrell).
If you have seen any of Ritchie’s earlier work, you can guess where things go from here – a comedy of errors transpires as these corrupt figures crash into one another, often fumbling around in their nastiness to try and one up the others. A lot of one-liners are hurled about in velvety tones, some in such thick accents it is hard to keep up with the verbal mayhem.
The Gentlemen is not as densely plotted as, say, Snatch and Revolver, but it does a good job of coming across as Ritchie’s greatest-hits collection, offering a smorgasbord of moments where recognisable actors riff off each other.
Ritchie, working with his cinematographer Alan Stewart, does a superb job with the action-ey moments, which are slickly choreographed, paced and presented so cleanly they taste like a glass of your favorite beverage. The marriage between violence and style is something you expect from a Ritchie film, but the surprise element remains intact as the frames of the film drip with the various scents of cigar-smoking, whiskey, marijuana, and testosterone bouncing against each other as if in a ballet competition. Atmosphere, therefore, is key as human cruelty turns into entertainment that is somehow acceptable because there is a sense of reckoning for the dirtiest scoundrel in the whole bunch of scumbags. It all hurtles towards a high-toned finale, with objectively farcical plot contrivances, to make for almost two hours of pure entertainment.
On the downside, there is no real point this movie makes. It often feels like Ritchie is overcompensating for the failures of the last decade, as a filmmaker, by being in a cinematic zone that feels too comfortable for his own good. Hard-nosed crime comedy dramas are always very inviting, but Ritchie has not matured as a filmmaker – the rowdy boyishness, that seemed cool back in the early 2000s, seems fairly dated now. There are plenty of twists in this story, but the Abbas Mustan-ness of this kind of filmmaking is more apparent now than ever before. The viewers who were introduced to Ritchie’s verbal run and gun style cinema have grown up, but Ritchie himself has not, the least bit.
The question that you will, in fact, ask yourselves repeatedly is why Farrell does not get more recognition on a mainstream level because he is, yet again, the most enjoyable and memorable part of the movie. In the almost 20 years (boy, Minority Report is pretty old now) since I have been seeing him on screen, I have personally never seen a performance of his that I did not dig. His electric turn in The Gentlemen seems like the passage of an era where he is bursting out of his seams, ready to plunge into the next chapter of his life with The Batman coming out next year.
It is quite like the beginning of the McConaissance of Farrell, while ironically McConaughey himself is quite forgettable in this film, adding to the dumpster fire of a filmography since Interstellar.
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