Guy Ritchie’s latest endeavour, The Gentlemen, commences looking indiscernible from a beer advert. Matthew McConaughey – too tanned to be a believable British resident – prances into a stylish pub and sips a perfectly-pulled pint. Then a gun goes off, swiftly followed by a clean spray of blood. It’s an apt microcosm for the film, a slow generic start followed by a clean final act that is both intriguing and exciting, but not exactly shocking. Needless to say, you get exactly what you ordered with The Gentlemen, and if you like the menu that’s great.
The structure takes shape with a little help from Hugh Grant as a nosy Fletcher who recounts his version of events in a cockney accent through a snaggletoothed grin. He’s trying to blackmail drug lord Mickey Pearson’s (McConaughey) right-hand man, played coolly by Charlie Hunnam. Pearson is an Oxford graduate who found a profitable gap in the market for rich kids who wanted weed. In no time, the business blossoms into a thriving empire. But now Pearson wants out and finds a buyer. Soon a sleuth of mobsters are trying to swindle him out of his multi-million pound deal by compromising his cannabis farms. It’s a simple story that is made out to be complicated by Grant’s constant interjecting quips, which hinder the film from finding its rhythm. Once it does, The Gentlemen gets better and better.
It’s no surprise that Guy Ritchie does Guy Ritchie well. The script is smooth and smart. Its zingers are delivered with a smirk by a cast of well-known stars who wear suits on a sliding scale of well-tailored to ill-fitting. Colin Farrell, garnering a laugh with even the simplest of gestures, wins best in show. Ultimately, The Gentlemen doesn’t change the rubric that Ritchie has found successful. Yes, there are fluorescent-lit cannabis basements and video game-like smartphone footage, but he’s hardly reinventing the wheel.
It’s the type of film where you already know if you’re going to see it. So, for those of you on the fence, it is quite funny and well-crafted. After a while, though, the constant string of “Chinese names are hard to pronounce” jokes, combined with the “Jewish millionaire trying to get a cheaper deal” throughline, make one wonder if The Gentlemen is stuck in the past. Not even the glimmer of a star-studded cast is enough to distract from it.
The Gentlemen is released nationwide on 1st January 2020.
Watch the trailer for The Gentlemen here: