Thursday, 2 January 2020

Review: The Gentlemen

The Gentlemen
Cert: 18 / 113 mins / Dir. Guy Ritchie / Trailer

You can take the boy out of London but you can’t take London out of the boy. And so Guy Ritchie returns to the mockney wide-boy swagger that made his name in the 1990s with The Gentlemen (formerly Toff Guys, formerly Bush), a well-worn knotted yarn of gangsters, guns and the grinning sociopaths of the capital’s underworld.

However. The hurdle Ritchie seems to keep snagging is that each time he waits a decade to make the pilgrimage, he never quite comes back to that same sweet spot. Laden with slightly too much baggage for better or worse from more mainstream projects, the writer/director is hostage to his own better and worst excesses. And so it proves.


In The Gentlemen, minder and enforcer Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) is paid a late-night visit by the charming but weasely private investigator Fletcher (Hugh Grant). The sleuth has been tasked in uncovering the secrets of Raymond’s weed mega-entrepreneur boss Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), but knows he can probably score a larger payday by using this dirt as blackmail leverage instead. With key characters coming in the guises of Michelle Dockery, Henry Golding, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan and Colin Farrell, it’s a star-studded, sprawling and deliberately labyrinthine tale.

And as is so often the case with Ritchie’s gangster oeuvre, this works both for and against it. Our auteur conflates confusion with cleverness and slapstick with style. The screenplay is brimming with the harshest of needless expletives, its pacing all over the place like a first-draft written in a pub. Around a third of the actors do well, another third are fine but mis-cast and the rest of the roles could be played by anybody to similar effect.

Reader, I enjoyed it.


Make no mistake, The Gentlemen is not a return to the heady days of Lock, Stock or Snatch, but if you liked the much-underrated RocknRolla then there is fun to be had in this manor. The weaving plot will reward repeat-viewings, as will the more gaudy punchlines and the performances of an established cast trying their damnedest with a script that reads like a live-action cartoon. This is definitely the film you would expect Guy Ritchie to make.

Back in the day, the director came under fire for being a posh-boy playing dress-up in the East End. As time went on and he demonstrated his weaknesses at mainstream cinema, Guy was called out as an imposter at that party, too.

The Gentlemen is very much where Ritchie finds himself now. Clearly too well-heeled for Chicken Cottage, but looked down upon at Nando’s. Guy Ritchie is the KFC of British film-making. And that’s absolutely fine, London is big enough to embrace all of these outlets and for each to thrive.

The problem is that Guy Ritchie is trying to work all of these restaurants from one menu...

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
The intensity of Layer Cake with the ADHD of Smokin' Aces.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
If you're already aboard The Good Ship Ritchie, hell yes.

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
It is.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
It is not.

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
That's likely.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There is not
And it's not like there aren't two ideal opportunities

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Idrosen Gawat is in this.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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