Of late, Guy Ritchie has spent the last decade making high-profile studio pictures including the likes of two Sherlock Holmes movies, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) and Aladdin (2019). In his latest movie titled The Gentlemen, Guy Ritchie finally returns to the familiar gangster-comedy territory since 2008’s RocknRolla that made him a household name back in his early Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels heyday.
The story revolves around Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), an American expat who made a huge fortune selling marijuana in the UK. But now, he finally had enough and planning to sell his marijuana empire to a wealthy Jewish-American billionaire Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong).
Of course, in a true Guy Ritchie fashion, things get complicated. In between, there are few others involved. This includes the Chinese gangster nicknamed Dry Eye (Henry Golding), who offers to buy out Pearson’s business as well, private investigator Fletcher (Hugh Grant) blackmailing Pearson’s right-hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) with photographic evidence of Pearson’s shady dealings, and Coach (Colin Farrell), a MMA trainer looking to make amends after finding out his protege of juvenile delinquents responsible for raiding Pearson’s supposedly secret weed farm.
As expected in a Guy Ritchie’s gangster comedy, you’ll get all the usual macho swagger as well as profanity-laden dialogue, colourful characters and Tarantino-lite interconnected storyline. The latter is particularly evident since The Gentlemen is largely told in a series of interweaving stories jumping back and forth, with Hugh Grant’s Fletcher unfolds all the bits and pieces surrounding Mickey Pearson’s life as a powerful crime lord to his early retirement (the plot also involved him trying to sell his findings in the form of a movie screenplay).
Now, let’s talk about what didn’t work in this movie. The whole movie-within-a-movie narrative approach involving Fletcher telling his stories about Mickey Pearson isn’t as entirely whip-smart as Ritchie aimed to be, who also wrote his own screenplay. Some scenes tend to be too smug for its own good. Other times, it looks as if Ritchie rehashing his own career-defining works (1998’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and 2000’s Snatch), which also explained why The Gentlemen is sometimes stale and patchy in places.
Fortunately, Ritchie isn’t completely losing his touch. His screenplay does contain a few genuinely funny moments, notably in a scene that made fun of a character’s name and another one involved heavily-implied bestiality.
It also helps that he gives his all-star cast a chance to shine with their respective roles, beginning with Matthew McConaughey’s coolly charismatic turn as the big-time marijuana dealer Mickey Pearson. Charlie Hunnam brings solid support as Pearson’s no-nonsense dapper-looking henchman, Raymond while Hugh Grant delivers a spot-on performance as the sleazy private investigator-turned-aspiring screenwriter, Fletcher.
The rest of the supporting cast is just as commendable ranging from Henry Golding’s showy role of a pushy Chinese gangster Dry Eye to Michelle Dockery’s take-charge portrayal as Pearson’s wife, Rosalind. Then, there’s Colin Farrell — easily the MVP of the movie with his scene-stealing turn as Coach.
Although The Gentlemen isn’t exactly Ritchie’s return-to-form comeback to the gangster-comedy territory, his latest directorial effort remains reasonably fun and entertaining.