The Gentlemen: Movie Review

the-gentlemenLet’s see if you can guess the movie I’m writing about if I list its ingredients: Great Britain, verbose criminals and lots of flashbacks, amateur boxing, and Guy Ritchie at the helm. Which movie are you thinking about? Probably, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Snatch (2000), or even RocknRolla (2008). Well done, you’re good at this, but you’re wrong. I’m writing about The Gentlemen, Guy Ritchie’s 2020 film in which he returns to familiar ground after working on other genres with mixed results (both with the funny Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr. in 2009 and 2011, and with stuff like King Arthur in 2017 and Aladdin in 2019).

In The Gentlemen, we follow various characters gravitating around Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), an American marijuana lord (cultivation + distribution) in the United Kingdom who would like to sell his business and enjoy his wealth with his wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery). His trusted right arm Ray (Charlie Hunnam) helps him, while the rest of the movie’s characters are more or less interested either in his drugs or his money. There’s a wonderful Hugh Grant playing an unscrupulous journalist (Fletcher), a promising young Chinese criminal named Dry Eye (Henry Golding), another American criminal named Matthew who would like to succeed Mickey (Jeremy Strong), a boxing coach played by Colin Farrell (now I can’t help but like him every time he’s in a movie) and so on.

Guy Ritchie is comfortable here and it shows. The story is narrated by Hugh Grant’s character using an infinite series of flashbacks: sometimes he explains things, sometimes he changes things for the sake of showing us how the story could have been different. The plot might seem complicated at first but in reality I found it extremely linear. In any case, the plot seemed to me just an excuse to have fun with all these actors enjoying their infinitely long lines of dialogue as criminals who like to philosophize about everything, from the smallest thing to the most complex questions about life. There’s undoubtedly some Tarantino in this movie, and perhaps it’s no coincidence that Miramax has distribution rights to the film (apparently it paid $30 million for those).

In any case, the film is really entertaining and I think that it should be taken for what it is: a fun ride with a bit of violence (not too much) and with many brilliantly written dialogues and far from realistic situations and interaction. Ritchie’s goal was not to create a credible world. Rather, it seems that he gave to a bunch of phenomenal actors the opportunity to play charismatic characters who talk a lot while drinking whiskey or smoking cigars. I think that I had just as much fun watching the movie as they had making it. It doesn’t feel as fresh and novel as Ritchie’s first two films that I mentioned at the beginning, but I liked it more than RocknRolla and I recommend watching it. I’d define it stylish, a bit like its opening credits with smoke silhouettes reminding of the smoke of Mickey Pearson’s marijuana empire. Ciao!

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