Basically: A tangled and witty tale of criminals in London.
After weirdly stumbling by directing Disney’s Aladdin live-action and a King Arthur adaptation, Guy Ritchie is back in his wheelhouse; doing what he does best. The Gentlemen is a stylized caper with that real British “English” english being spoken on screen. I didn’t know how much I missed this Guy Ritchie until about halfway into this movie. While he did put a lot of his aesthetic into his King Arthur it was still not him. The last time we got to see his style properly was in RocknRolla (a modern classic, I’ll fight people over it).
In this tale Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is an American in England who’s made a marijuana empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Now he wants out and that puts a target on his head. The setup is given to us by private investigator Fletcher (Hugh Grant) who is trying to blackmail Mickey’s right hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam). (Okay, there is way more to the story but trying to explain it would spin a web more tangled than Spider-Man’s.)
Photo by Christopher Raphael
The cast is on their A-game. Hugh Grant gives a performance that is unlike what you’d expect from him. Seeing him delight in acting this way is a joy to watch. Jeremy Strong’s performance is also great as Mathew Berger, a businessman who’s interested in Mickey’s business. Strong joyfully chews up the scenery with so much ham (but it’s good hamming up). Colin Ferrell rounds out the big-name cast as a man only known as the Coach. He’s a character that’s hilarious and lovable yet will leave you scratching your head, wondering how he fits until the end. It’s fun to see Ferrell play a man who is not the handsome focus or the dashing bad guy. Henry Golding, by the way, gets to be the dashing bad guy which is completely against his type of cool and calm gentleman. The rough and rowdy gangster is a good look for him and I want to see more.
The only real issue I had with The Gentlemen is the color grading and lighting. The film feels a bit too muted on the screen. It could be the theater I saw it in but I don’t think so. Overall the use of music and the editing was very good. The story doesn’t lose you and it’s never jarring, even when it jumps from one thing to the next. There are some great laughs but it might confuse people who are not used to Ritchie’s crime efforts. However the Ritchie stalwarts from the 90s will feel right at home. If he stays with these types of movies we are back in business. January is starting pretty well this year and Ritchie is part of the reason why.
In the End: The Gentlemen is a return to form for Guy Ritchie.