PG Score: 8/10
The Gentlemen is a welcomed return to form for Director Guy Ritchie. It’s funny, smart, and boasts the type of clever script that fans of his crime capers have come to know and love. The plot is simple, yet effective. It follows the head of a marijuana empire in England, Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), who is trying to finally retire from the business he’s worked so hard to build. The ensemble cast is loaded with star power. McConaughey is joined by Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Hugh Grant, Henry Golding, Colin Farrell, Eddie Marsan, and Jeremy Strong. Hunnam plays Ray, who is Mickey’s right hand man and is responsible for the film’s best performance. He is an absolute scene stealer in a much more comedic role than he usually takes on. Dockery plays Mickey’s wife, Rosalind, in a smaller role. She makes good use of her limited screen time, delivering a strong performance for a fierce lioness of a character.
Grant plays Fletcher, a greedy private detective who digs up dirt on the main players in the dangerous game they play. He’s utterly hilarious and reels off his quick-witted one-liners exceptionally well. Golding is Dry Eye, a rival of Mickey’s who is determined to capitalize on his desire to leave the drug business. Farrell plays Coach, who is unwittingly drawn into the unfolding chaos. He does a good job nailing his character’s accent and has a lasting impact in a small amount of screen time. Strong plays Matthew, an interested party in Mickey’s empire. Finally, Marsan is Big Dave, a scorned adversary of Mickey’s.
The actors do a phenomenal job of delivering their lines and wholeheartedly embracing their characters. It’s quite clear everyone was fully invested in their roles and with an ensemble cast as stacked as this, it’s reassuring to see that no one phoned in their performance. Fans of Ritchie will immediately recognize the style employed here and undoubtedly breathe a sigh of relief seeing him return to his roots. Lighthearted crime dramas are his bread and butter. Even classifying it as a drama is a bit of a reach given the amount of humor packed within the 113-minute runtime. As with other similar films of his, such as Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, it combines genres masterfully. The storytelling style is also very familiar. It demands the attention of the viewer throughout, as many of the lines are delivered quickly and the plot moves briskly. There a few scenes of bloodletting, but the violence is rather tame overall. If you’re looking for a high body count, you’ve come to the wrong place. This isn’t a negative by any means, since the main draw is the stellar dialogue.
The method used to relay the plot definitely has a feel reminiscent of previous Ritchie films, but it’s also unique. The way the chronology unfolds is different and certainly refreshing, without ever seeming gimmicky. The script is ripe with peppy one-liners, rib-tickling verbal spars, and comedically-lofty monologues. The back and forth between Grant’s Fletcher and Hunnam’s Ray are particularly entertaining. The two have palpable chemistry and make for a truly magnificent onscreen duo. The only real gripe with The Gentlemen is it does lose some momentum going into the final act. There’s a noticeable drop off in pacing and it drags for a short while just before the climax. Thankfully, the finale does not follow the same pattern. This is a win for Guy Ritchie. It’s a blessing to see him once again mastering his craft in the genre he was born to direct. There’s a lot to like in this movie. All the ingredients mix together nicely to form the satisfying main course that is The Gentlemen.