Guy Ritchie is back in the British crime genre for the first time since RocknRolla back in 2008. And whilst I’ve liked a lot of his work since then, probably more than most, it is very exciting because films like Lock Stock and Snatch are some of the best British films from the last 20 or so years.
The Gentlemen is framed by a conversation between a private investigator, Fletcher (Hugh Grant), and Raymond (Charlie Hunnam), the right hand man to cannabis baron Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey). They discuss Fletcher’s investigation of Pearson at the behest of a tabloid editor during a time of great flux as Pearson gears up to sell his business. This framing device allows for Ritchie’s typical non linear style of storytelling, where various different strands of story that seem disparate all come together in the climax of the film. If you’ve ever seen a Guy Ritchie gangster film before it will be incredibly familiar to you, but its a tried and tested formula, but one that never works as well as in Ritchie’s best work. The only real issue with it is the regular false or fabricated moments from Grant’s Fletcher these always seem to derail the story and kill the momentum, and include one of the film’s most problematic moments.
But Grant is fantastic in the film. Watching him play a character unlike any other he’s played before is tremendous fun. Instead of his usual awkward and charming persona he’s a grimey and unlikable geezer. His back and forth with Hunnam’s Raymond is great fun, and one of the highlights of the film. The whole cast is stacked full of stars, with Henry Golding, Michaelle Dockery, Eddie Marsan, and Colin Farrell all getting supporting roles. It is a colourful collection of characters, and everyone involved does a good job, even if none of them get the screen time to really make their presence felt as the three main actors do.
The Gentlemen is very much a safe film for Ritchie to make. If you’re a fan of his gangster films then this is in his wheelhouse, and its nice to see him back in the genre, even if he doesn’t reach the heights of Lock Stock and Snatch. For those who aren’t Richie fans, there is certainly nothing in The Gentlemen that will win you over.