Private dick Fletcher (Hugh Grant) has a story to tell Ray (Charlie Hunnam), the “right-hand-man” for weed-grower/dealer Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey). It’s a story filled with truth and embellishment.
Mickey is ready to retire. After years of dealing weed, he looks to enjoy the fruits of his labor with his lovely and equally powerful wife, Rosalind (Michelle Dockery).
While negotiations begin with prospective buyer Matthew (Jeremy Strong), Mickey’s business begins to unravel as rivals catch wind of his retirement.
As Ray is forced to listen to Fletcher’s sordid story, a dangerous and dark truth surfaces, forcing Mickey and Ray to react or pay a steep price.
“The Gentlemen” is a typical film from writer/director Guy Ritchie – that’s a good thing. Following the same footprints as his previous films of the same ilk, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998) and “Snatch” (2000), Ritchie brings plenty of characterization, action and memorable plotting.
Men with names like Coach (Colin Farrell), Dry Eye (Henry Golding), Lord George (Tom Wu) and Big Dave (Eddie Marsan) splash upon the screen to leave their indelible marks on audiences and bruises on their fellow characters.
Ritchie made a name for himself creating unusual stories peppered with unrepentant characters, men and women willing to ignore lines in the sand to achieve their goals – revealing a dark European underbelly of secrets, deceit and violence. Ritchie’s world is not politically correct as shown by the dialogue and actions of its characters – this is edginess at its most enjoyable.
If there is one weakness to this dark comedy, it’s the main character, Mickey. McCounaughey’s Mickey starts with a voice over reminiscent of his Lincoln commercials, but soon hits his stride as the narrative kicks in. Compared to the other action-oriented players in this film, Mickey’s stoic nature relegates him to a simple pivot point for the plot.
The rest of the cast is fascinating, fanciful and frightening. From the aggressive Dry Eye to the egotistical Big Dave, each character fully acts upon their wants, creating a sizzling energy that makes the third act glow with tension and fun.
Hugh Grant’s Fletcher is a deliciously crass dirtbag who will force you to rethink Hugh Grant as an actor – he is wonderful! Colin Farrell plays the coolest character in the film, Coach. Farrell’s no-nonsense, directly honest coach proves that he is one of the most underrated talents in Hollywood (I think I’m going to start wearing gym suits to work to emulate Coach).
“The Gentlemen” is a knockdown, drag-out, chin up, dark comedy that will have you laughing, cringing and cheering throughout this unabashed journey.
After helming the bloated blockbusters “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” and “Aladdin,” Guy Ritchie triumphantly returns to his roots with a stylish crime caper titled, tongue in cheek, “The Gentlemen.”
Ritchie is extremely comfortable in the gangster comedy lane, and also wrote a humdinger of a screenplay from a story he conceived along with Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies. The zippy drug underworld scenario speedily moves between schemes, bribery, blackmail and polite society throughout London and the English countryside. Gemma Jackson’s production design is particularly fetching.
With a sharp cast of colorful characters, who look like they are having a lot of fun portraying mostly naughty boys, this is an enjoyable romp well-suited to lift viewers up from winter doldrums.
Matthew McConaughey is back in fine form as “the King of the Jungle,” and shows a flair for Ritchie’s dialogue. He excels at interplay with Michelle Dockery, who expertly imagined his glamorous but steely wife Rosalind.
The supporting players are a savvy mix of veterans and new talent, and all are splendidly cast, especially a funny turn by Colin Farrell as a multi-talented coach (just the outfits alone elicit chuckles).
It’s fun to see Hugh Grant as a morally compromised gumshoe Fletcher, Jeremy Strong as an effete tycoon Matthew, Henry Golding as bad-boy Dry Eye, Eddie Marsan as a sleazy publisher Big Dave and Charlie Hunnam as Mickey’s refined fixer Ray.
Ritchie made a big splash with “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” in 1998, followed by hits “Snatch” and “RocknRolla,” establishing himself as a “guy’s guy director.” And while the Cockney accents can be a challenge to decipher with his trademark fast-talking dialogue, “The Gentlemen” showcases his cheeky wit.
Ritchie does, however, have a penchant for violence in the rough-and-tough worlds he spotlights, although this movie is more toned down than his previous ones.
Nevertheless, the language is coarse, and the frequent use of the C-word as a male slur is jarring.
But the cast makes this a dandy adventure that keeps us tangled in all its interesting threads, without guessing what happens next. The clever story is aided by editor James Herbert’s quick cuts and vivid cinematography by Alan Stewart, along with a terrific music score by Christopher Benstead.
It’s Ritchie’s best film since his “Sherlock Holmes” take starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in 2009.