A British drug lord tries to sell off his highly profitable empire to a dynasty of Oklahoma billionaires.
A return to the type of films that made him famous at the turn of the century, ‘The Gentlemen’ finds Guy Ritchie back on familiar ground, if not entirely finding a return to form after directing Hollywood fare like ‘Aladdin’ and a couple of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ films. ‘The Gentlemen’ is a film very much in the style of ‘Snatch’ and ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’, bringing together an ensemble cast, cockney gangsters and a twisty narrative that jumps back and forth in time, and I quite enjoyed it, even if it feels more like a tribute to those films than a film that will stand on its own two feet.
‘The Gentlemen’ begins in the home of Raymond (Charlie Hunnam), a fixer for an American businessman who runs a profitable drug empire in London. His home has been infiltrated by an unscrupulous tabloid journalist called Fletcher, played by Hugh Grant who is clearly having a ball playing a seedy, loathsome but kind of charming sleazebag, who has spotted an opportunity to make a fast buck from Raymond’s boss, Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey). He’s a storyteller, the kind of man who loves to spin a yarn, and much of the film jumps between Fletcher telling the story, and the story itself as we move back a few weeks to Pearson beginning his attempts to sell his business to Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong), another rich American with shady morals. What follows is a lot of action, double crossing, shifting loyalties and motivations, and I enjoyed it up to a point, particularly the performances which are clearly delivered by actors having a lot of fun.
It’s not vintage Ritchie and the dialogue in particular feels a bit strained, like Ritchie’s trying to write iconic lines without considering how they can flow organically from his characters, but there’s enough to entertain here across the ensemble cast. ‘The Gentlemen’ isn’t up there with Ritchie’s most memorable work but it’s a welcome return to the type of film he’s good at making and I enjoyed it.
Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan and Colin Farrell