In Brief: Guy Ritchie returns to his roots and there is nothing gentle about these gentlemen or his movie.
According to Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) The Gentlemen is an action drama. I’d define it more as a comedy-drama. The movie is very clever and quite funny in spots. So let’s just define it as dramatically funny. If you have a need to put movies into genre categories then that is a more accurate explanation.
But it’s almost impossible to put a Guy Ritchie movie into a genre.
To those familiar with classic Ritchie movies like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and RocknRolla the genre definition is not needed. Those films have dark and often muddy plots packed with clever storytelling, even more clever editing techniques and laugh-out-loud sequences.
These films are absolutely outrageous and most of us walked out of them with huge grins on our faces while babbling about which parts of the movie we liked the best.
Note I said classic Guy Ritchie. There’s also the Guy Ritchie directed and co-written films that are dull as dirt. I’m referring to the two Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr. and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and — worst of all — last year’s Aladdin.
The Gentlemen returns Ritchie to his roots. It is a complex tale told in a tongue-in-cheek way as only Ritchie can tell one. Matthew McConaughey is Mickey Pearson. He lives in England and has developed a pot sales business that generates millions.
Pearson is thinking of selling.
The possible sale is the focal point. Duplicity and canny and oh-so-cunning plot twists surround Pearson’s decision. And it all begins with a story being told by Hugh Grant’s Fletcher. He pops into the home Ray who is Pearson’s top hatchet guy. Fletcher wants money and is attempting to blackmail Pearson through Ray.
The plot unfolds through Fletcher’s storytelling and it is done at classic Guy Ritchie’s legendary, and very frenetic pace.
Call it what you want. Drama. Action movie. Whatever. In my book The Gentlemen is a heavily R-rated comedy. And a really good one.
It doesn’t hurt to have excellent actors capable of making an off-the-wall and totally unbelievable story, believable. The laughs whirl around how Fletcher explains his theory of what’s happening to Ray. Within that framework Grant and Colin Farrell handle the heavy comedy lifting.
They’re anchored by Charlie Hunnam, the always fun to watch McConaughey. Both men, and the rest of the actors in this this very good cast, play it straight. The combination of the drama and comedy is brilliant.
However, the real star — as always — is Ritchie.
He tells his story in tantalizing bits and pieces. It’s subtle and packed with clues to propel the mystery forward. In other places Ritchie bludgeons you. The bludgeoning is where Ritchie separates himself from others doing this kind of movie. Just when you think you’ve figured things out, along comes a twist. Then another. And another.
Again — and I go back to those familiar with Ritchie’s early movies — when Ritchie gets it right, no filmmaker does this brand of movie better. And with “The Gentlemen” Ritchie definitely gets it right.
Directors: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Lyne Renee, Coin Farrell, Henry Golding Eddie Marsan
Fun stuff in a dramatic, heavy sort of way. This is outrageous from the opening scenes to the credits. Give Ritchie’s latest a 5 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
Click here for theaters and show times.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.