THE GENTLEMEN

I’m not all that familiar with Guy Ritchie’s work. I’ve seen his Sherlock Holmes films, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and Aladdin (2019), but I don’t really count those as “Guy Ritchie films”. His signature style is one you see in his films like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking BarrelsSnatch, and RocknRolla, the only one of his I’ve seen. I mostly found it confusing and needlessly complicated, with too many characters to follow. I understand it’s considered one of his weaker films, but I realized I liked Ritchie’s style, but it was not without its shortcomings. 
 
The Gentlemen follows private investigator Fletcher (Hugh Grant), sent by his boss to investigate a Lord who has questionable, possibly criminal, connections. He presents his evidence in the form of a screenplay, which he reads to Raymond (Charlie Hunnam), the personal bodyguard of marijuana grower and dealer, Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey). Pearson’s growing plant is raided by fellow criminal, Dry Eye (Henry Golding), which kicks off a war between Pearson’s and Dry Eye’s two factions. 
 
I think that’s what it’s all about anyway, because there are a lot of moving pieces here, with each character basically representing different pieces on a chess board. Characters strategically outsmart each other, plan their next moves far in advance, and of course resort to violence. Everybody has a motive, an ulterior motive, and you’re never really sure who to trust. The problem is, though, there are just too many moving parts here, especially with rapid fire pacing with flashbacks and flashforwards. You’re not given much context for a lot of what’s going on until later and it’s really easy to miss because there’s constant conversational dialogue that’s pretty much all exposition dumping. I enjoyed the story structure of having a movie within a movie, but it just complicates the narrative more. The last half hour gets ridiculously convoluted, with characters constantly double crossing each other, who then get double crossed later by other characters. Every time I thought the story was going to end, a character gets a one up on another one and I just thought, what’s there to care about? What’s the point? It gets to the point where I was waiting for a character to literally pull a card out of their sleeve. 
 
While the contrived and intricate plot does eventually make the film tedious, what really keeps it entertaining is the fun and committed cast. What Ritchie seems to have a talent in is creating layered and interesting characters, all with unique personalities. He’s very much like Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, in which there can be a character in one scene, but it feels like you know everything about them. Charlie Hunnam and Hugh Grant were the standouts for me, which was great, because they both had the most screentime. I’ve always found Hunnam to be a little bland, but he’s quite adept at dry comedy and constantly had me cracking up. Hugh Grant breaks his mold of the charming and handsome love interest in romantic comedies and turns in a career best performance. He has so much personality, has hilarious dialogue and line delivery, but at the end when the stakes rise, he’s actually pretty menacing and feels like a genuine threat. Even if all of the characters are a bit eccentric and silly, they all feel like real threats to one another, with them having no problem riddling people with bullets. 
 
Everybody is perfectly cast as their respective characters and are all clearly having a good time, which makes The Gentlemen a good time, despite the clunky screenplay. Ritchie has a lot of style with his energetic direction and editing, and he clearly thought this story out, but it eventually becomes too much. I’m sure it all made sense to him, but it didn’t make much sense to me, but I’d rather him to do stuff more in his wheelhouse than wasting his time on blockbuster nonsense. 
 
6.5/10 

Leave a Reply


Connect Online