Guy Richie is finally back to bring his skills into writing and directing crime gangster movies that fans of his back have been beckoning for a long time. He’s a director I am not the biggest fan of since his approach in his styles never worked for me in a while. That being said, I’m glad to see him not do big-budget movies like King Arthur: Legend of the Sword or Disney’s remake of Aladdin, as those two felt like crap, especially the former. Plus, am I the only one that keeps forgetting The Man from U.N.C.L.E. exists? Very underwhelming. But besides that, The Gentlemen sounded like a return to form from him with a talented cast at hand and might make it want to revisit his classics.
What’s the Story: Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is an American expatriate who became rich by building a highly profitable marijuana empire in London. When word gets out that he’s looking to cash out of the business, it soon triggers an array of plots and schemes — including bribery and blackmail — from shady characters who want to steal his domain.
Though the trailers made it look like another forgettable movie to come out in January, I was hopeful in knowing this seemed like he was getting back to his roots. Honestly, I didn’t even know he was going this a month before marketing was kicking into gear. What I’ll say about The Gentlemen is that even though it’s not one of the best movies to come out this year, this is the most Guy Ritchie movie ever directed by Guy Ritchie, if that makes sense. Like most British Richie movies centered on crime, you already know it will be heavy with deals, drugs, cursing, and anything else that has been involved. The violence is a little bloody, but it’s moderate enough to still earn the respectable R-rating. What I appreciated about his direction is that I felt like it was a sort-of throwback to classic crime movies of the ‘70s, down to the opening credits set to David Rawlings’ “Cumberland Cap” that puts you in the mood of what’s coming with the story. Even his screenplay had some surprises that might not be shocking per se, but it managed to be clever in the story’s mix that got some pretty funny moments that were unexpected.
But let’s talk about this ensemble here, as even if this wasn’t great, this boasts a cool cast of people including McConaughey, Charlie Hunnman, Colin Farrell, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Succession’s Jeremy Strong, and Hugh Grant, and all of them did a great job. McConaughey was so good as Mickey, which made me a bit worried since I didn’t know if he would be intimidating as the crime boss. Yet, there’s nobody else who can work with what he’s given. The two performances that I didn’t think would be good but ended up impressing me the most was Charlie Hunnam and Hugh Grant as Raymond Smith and Fletcher, respectively. Hunnam hasn’t been in that one movie that made me believe he’s a good enough actor, that includes King Arthur. But he puts on my favorite role of his that honestly made me respect him a bit more. He has this scene where it’s in this apartment going on this monologue that made me almost fear of his character. Then you got Grant, as journalist Fletcher, in one of the funniest performances he has ever given that’s very different and almost unrecognizable. Both of them share a lot of screen time, as Fletcher is telling Raymond the story in the first place, bringing some hilarity that was the best moments of the entire film.
The story was a bit of an issue when I couldn’t exactly understand what was going on, especially during the first act. Since Grant’s character is telling this story to Hunnam and the audience (kind of) of how everything went down, it was confusing trying to figure out if it’s all true or made up for the sake of his screenplay to be sent through. Maybe because of that reason, I lost sight of the pacing for a bit. The energy was there, but it took a while to finally lean into the plot. And I don’t know if anyone else has this problem, but when a film that takes place in England, it was hard trying to keep up with what the characters are saying with their accents or when the usage of slang that’s well-known over there, so much of the dialogue was hit-or-miss. Saying the film is fun is good to say, even for those who have a kindling to Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, the two that made him a prominent name in the genre. For the others that have mixed feelings on the type of movies he’s been doing, there’s a slight chance of finding this entertaining.
To my surprise, The Gentlemen is probably the most decent movie Richie has directed in quite a while. This was able to be a pretty clever gangster flick with a script that doesn’t work all the way through, but it’s easy to see why this will be enjoyable enough for fans that have required him re-capturing what was brought to the table a long time ago. If this ever comes on TV in a couple of years or so, it wouldn’t hurt to give it another chance in hopes of easing into what was going on.