Current Issue #488

Film Review:
The Gentlemen

Michelle Dockery and Matthew McConaughey in The Gentlemen

Guy Ritchie returns to his laddish roots with this deliberately convoluted criminal-character piece that might unease queasier punters with its harsh violence, casual racism and almost poetic profanity.

The Hatfield-born Ritchie was obviously itching to return to something personal like his Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and RocknRolla (after a string of anonymous blockbusters including the Robert Downey Jr.-starring Sherlock Holmes pics, The Man From UNCLE, King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword and the new Aladdin), and he’s evidently having a damn fine time here.

Constructed via the expected flashbacks upon flashbacks and twists within twists, we open with seedy journalist Fletcher (Hugh Grant, also in Ritchie’s UNCLE) elaborately attempting to blackmail Raymond (Charlie Hunnam), right-hand-man to American baddie Mickey Pearson (an unctuous Matthew McConaughey, of course). Grant is a hoot throughout as he channels vintage Michael Caine for equal parts menace and camp and, like so many Ritchie thugs, he just loves to talk, and talk, and talk, and talk, AND TALK.

It seems that Mickey was looking to put his multi-million-pound marijuana business on the market, and although he originally offered to sell to another Yank, Oklahoman Mathew (Jeremy Strong), a series of other villains became involved. First up, and most dangerously, there’s ‘Dry Eye’ (Henry Golding, a long way from Crazy Rich Asians and Last Christmas), a Chinese hood with a psychotic edge, and then there’s a bunch of gangbanging punks who decide to rob Pearson’s underground operation, much to the horror of their hard but fair mentor Coach (Colin Farrell, who needed more screentime).

And if all those guys weren’t scary enough, Ritchie also throws in Rosalind, Mickey’s tough missus, a woman not to be toyed with and played by Michelle Dockery at the very last minute when Kate Beckinsale pulled out. If she wanted to shake off the creaky stuffiness of Downton Abbey then this certainly was the way to do it.

These toe-rags have an obsession with technology too: the thieving yobs film their heist, set it to hip-hop and post the clip online; a bunch of hoodies take selfies with a corpse; and Grant’s Fletcher keeps using words like “anamorphic” while also pondering if snippets of dialogue in his tale are a little weak and suggesting more violence be included to please the fans. Yes kids, he’s talking about the movie we’re actually watching.

Finally, much has been made about these geezers’ racism, and startlingly un-PC lines like “deluded duck-eating c***”, but that’s not Ritchie talking: it’s his characters, who are all, despite the title, extremely un-gentlemanly. Orright?

Reviewer Rating

The Gentlemen (MA) is in cinemas now

DM Bradley

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