Guy Ritchie returns to both the writing and directing chair to craft an exciting action-filled comedy that only he and he alone could create. “The Gentlemen” stars a wide array of talent that perfectly bring Ritchie’s patented expressive dialogue to life with every word they utter. The excitement in this film is not solely found in the action and gunshots that were heavily marketed but is instead felt within the elaborate narrative that keeps at a steady pace, along with the eccentric characters that help shepherd it along. Ritchie’s style bleeds throughout this film’s core from the very opening title credits, to the final cut to black; all of his standard trademarks are here which some may find tiresome, while others will find great enjoyment out of. Nevertheless, it should go without saying that with Ritchie in the driver’s seat “The Gentlemen” is an immensely entertaining film that will keep audiences engaged in its wonderful world of formalized chaos.
“The Gentlemen” centers around the suave Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), a kingpin that reigns over his established marijuana empire as he navigates throughout London attempting to remain on top, despite the many adversarial forces he faces along the way (But it is far more complex than that). A private investigator known only as Fletcher (Hugh Grant) is hired by Big Dave (Eddie Marsan), an editor for the Daily Print tabloid with the strict assignment of investigating Pearson’s personal ties to a royal named Lord Pressfield (Samuel West). During the course of his investigation, Fletcher uncovers several secrets shrouded in mystery and deception. It is realized, that Pearson is fully intent on selling his business to the American billionaire, Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong) for a grand sum of $400 million. However, at the exact same time, a young Chinese crime boss named, Dry Eye (Henry Golding) is looking to relieve Pearson of the stress by outright buying the entire establishment. When Pearson refuses, he and his wife Rosalind Pearson (Michelle Dockery) along with his right-hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) are thrust into a world of chaos where they are the primary targets everyone is aimed at. Having said that, it should be noted that the first two-thirds of the film are framed within a late-night conversation Fletcher invites Raymond to, with regards to his findings. Fletcher fully intends on selling his discoveries to Raymond in exchange for £20 million or he will go to print, a simple blackmail technique.
Ritchie provides an exhilarating screenplay that keeps audiences glued to their seats guessing where it will go next and just when you think you’ve figured it out, the film takes a complete detour of absurdity that most would fail in their attempts The film rarely stops to take a break which on paper may seem like a real flaw; but for “The Gentlemen” it is not. The narrative is told by the character of Fletcher and it feels extremely meta, so much so that a poster of one of Ritchie’s previous projects can be spotted for keen eyes. This type of narrative structure is a technique that some may find distracting and unfocused, but I personally find it to be brilliant. After the beautiful opening credits, we are instantly thrown into a shocking moment that immediately grabs your attention like a salacious headline; it is hard to forget. With this inciting moment now lodged in our brains, the audience becomes hyper-focused as they watch in awe eagerly waiting for that fatal moment to come back; and when it finally does, it is just as shocking as it was when we first witnessed it. Although this is a method used by many writers and directors, Ritchie pulls it off in a way that does not entirely spoil the film from the offset. With the film’s events unfolding through Fletcher’s recounting of the situations, as an actual written screenplay titled, “Bush” you cannot help but be fully captivated. The constant callbacks to past incidents and shifts of perspective all add to create a story that is one of the most entertaining ones of the year.
“The Gentlemen” as I expressed earlier, is a film constructed by an auteur that relishes in a flashy, yet extravagant style that only he could design. From a very entry-level observation, the first thing that will catch anyone’s attention are the elaborate and debonair outfits everyone on the cast, dons. Regardless of whether it is a fresh tapered suit, a loose-fitting jacket, or a bold tracksuit, every character showcased on-screen displays a level of sophistication only Guy Ritchie could pull off. Every shoe, every top, every pair of glasses; every single article of clothing appears to have been hand-picked as a means of painting each individual cast member as a figure you will not soon forget. Surprisingly, this quality is not exclusive to only the main cast as many of the extras also have a unique visual flavor that brings more life into every moment. When the film travels from scene to scene, the characters look fantastic, but so is the dialogue they are speaking. Ritchie’s use of language is rather impressive as none of his characters are presented as shallow one-trick ponies. Every line of dialogue is pointed with a purpose that perfectly sets the stakes for every scene as all of the actors and actresses are constantly vying to dominate the verbal battles they find themselves in. With metaphors and jokes littered all throughout, it is hard to not find all of the English accents just a bit endearing. Unfortunately, on the flip side, because of how animated the characters and their words can be at times, they will occasionally slip into the territory of a cartoonish caricature of themselves. It is not distinctively a fault of the film that ruins it by any means, but it can be a bit overwhelming from time to time (A sentiment that is true for the entirety of the film).
“The Gentlemen” is a blast of a film that explodes with character and features a fabulous cast that all bring their best. From the costumes and sets to the characters and their dialogue, Ritchie’s fingerprints are all over this film and it appears as though he is playing in a wheelhouse where he feels the most comfortable. Now of course, if you are not a fan of Guy Ritchie’s films or his overabundant style, then “The Gentlemen” may not be your cup of tea. However, the story and visual flair used to present it, flows throughout every frame and is certainly something that will entertain from beginning to end. Truly the first must-watch of 2020.