Guy Ritchie and gangster films are a classic combination in the vein of peanut butter and jelly, or toast and Vegemite if that’s more your thing. This has lead to some great films (RocknRolla and Snatch are my personal favorites) that are entertaining if a little thin. After an extended hiatus from the genre Ritchie is back with The Gentlemen. This return to the darkly humorous look at the quirky people who populate the seedy criminal underbelly of the UK is right up his alley. So let’s take a look at how The Gentlemen stands on its own and in the echelon of Ritchie gangster comedies.
“You really can’t unsee it once you’ve seen it.”
Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is a big time marijuana cultivator and distributor in England. Seeing the tides of the legalization turning and a desire to live a normal life he plans to sell his entire operation off for $400 million. Things begin to get tricky when a rival criminal enterprise run by Dry Eye (Henry Golding), a group of amateur boxers and their mentor (Colin Farrell), and a seedy journalist (Hugh Grant) get thrown into the equation. Violence, blackmail, and misunderstandings propel our characters into each other’s business leaving Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) Mickey’s right hand man to keep things from getting messy.
Let’s face it, when it comes to story in the crime genre it’s often pretty light and nothing original. What you’re always looking for is fun characters. This of course has always been one of Ritchie’s strengths. The guy knows how to pair his writing to the perfect performer. Whether it is Brad Pitt’s mush mouthed Mickey or Tom Hardy’s scene stealing Handsome Bob there are always memorable characters and this is no exception.
“There’s only one rule in the jungle: when the lion’s hungry, he eats!”
McConaughey always has a knack for leaving his stamp in a movie. But surprisingly he’s probably the least interesting of the cast. The winner in the “I’m Having the Most Fun Hamming it Up” category goes to Hugh Grant. Fletcher is our narrator who understands the importance of putting a little panache in his story. It’s always great watching Grant push past the bumbling nice guy stigma that plagued him in the nineties. He’s greedy, slimy, looking for his payday and it’s hilarious. In the same vein Farrell looks to be having fun as Coach. Hunnam does fine, but I’m sure Ritchie knew he needed to make it up to him for how King Arthur: Legend of the Sword turned out. And once again I got to hand it to Golding. Going from Last Christmas to The Gentlemen shows he can do pretty much anything and I will enjoy it.
I’m sure without fail we will continue to see Ritchie take on blockbuster films like Sherlock Holmes and Aladdin while sprinkling in crime films. They are his bread and butter and for the most part are at least an amusing way to spend around two hours. On the spectrum of Guy Ritchie gangster films The Gentlemen ranks somewhere in the upper middle area. It doesn’t reach the heights of Snatch, but it is definitely heads and tails above Revolver. (And admit it; you forgot that film existed until I mentioned it. Didn’t you?)
Overall Score: 3.5/5
The Shameless Plugs
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