James Clay // Film Critic
THE GENTLEMEN is a movie where those familiar with the work of London-based director Guy Ritchie will say, “He’s getting back to basics.” The theatrical reviews, including the one written from our editor Preston Barta, acknowledge how fun Ritchie is when his signature style shines through, but also recognizes the film doesn’t have much to say.
If you’ve seen one Guy Ritchie crime film, you’ll quickly recognize crass humor with a twinge of violence and frothy dialogue that will cause your grandma to shudder in her knickers. In some ways, Ritchie, who has branched out from his signature style with films like Disney’s remake of ALADDIN, is celebrating the salad days of his career when this style excited audiences and pleased critics.
However, THE GENTLEMEN is a bit of a strange film that has Ritchie dissecting his work while maintaining the playful honesty of the region he’s depicting. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Colin Farrell, and Michelle Dockery as the titular crew, this is a boys club with very little breathing room for the women in the cast. Ritchie isn’t apologizing for his politically incorrect way of thinking anytime soon.
The story is centered on Michael Pearson’s (McConaughey) marijuana distribution business, but he’s more of a mythic figure while his associates orbiting his axis take up much of the screen time. That’s the thing with McConaughey: anytime he’s on-screen, his presence eats up so much of the canvas all the other actors can do try to keep up.
Luckily, Ritchie’s direction gives his characters enough spice that the towering figure of Michael Pearson is merely an afterthought. In what is his most outright entertaining performance, Hunnam is Pearson’s fixer, Ray. He acts as the main focus of the feature, calm and cooly, running the business with a bespoke look that’s complete with an automatic weapon. Grant, who has made a fabulous go of it as a supporting actor (in films like PADDINGTON 2 and FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS), is hamming it up as a movie-loving gangster. At the same time, Colin Farrell’s character, Coach, manages a group of lads who are boxers at his gym but double as his muscle. These three actors have never been funnier in an ensemble setting, and Henry Golding (CRAZY RICH ASIANS) revels in dropping F-bombs.
THE GENTLEMEN may be a wee-bit shaggy in its first act, but Ritchie’s story slows down, and it makes for perfect couch viewing. With its goal to purely entertain its audience with famous faces who are getting to taste the posh life of British gangsters at a safe distance, I say let’s raise a pint to Ritchie’s creative spark.
It could be because of the COVID 19 pandemic, but the release is low on special features. It only includes one five-minute look on the set. There isn’t anything notable to report other than the ten-second glimpse of Ritchie directing Hunnam while spouting one of the most delectable South London accents to grace your ears.
Best Gentlemanly Quips – A three-minute collection of snappy one-liners from the movie. If you’re looking to win an insult contest, this may be a great compendium to ensure victory.
Glossary of Cannabis – A sizzle reel of different types of weed strains uttered in the film.
Behind the Scenes of THE GENTLEMEN – A quick peek behind the curtain of cast members chatting onset about the film.
THE GENTLEMEN is available today on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD and Digitial HD.