Hugh Grant steals the show in The Gentlemen, a “banterous” good time. Crack open a bottle of scotch, sit back, and become engrossed in this Guy Ritchie renaissance.
Matthew McConaughey stars as Mickey Pearson, the marijuana tycoon of England…alright, alright, alright. Looking to cash out and settle down, Mickey receives multiple offers to buy his multi-million-dollar empire but there’s one catch, there is no easy way out of an industry like this, not for Mickey. As bribery, blackmail, and sabotage ensue, Mickey may consider himself “king of the jungle” for now, but does he have what it takes to gracefully quit the throne?
In 1998, Writer/Director Guy Ritchie burst onto the scene with his well-regarded crime movie, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. In 2001, he reaffirmed his status in Hollywood with the Brad Pitt-led Snatch. While these two films may be what Ritchie is most recognized for, as they are the strongest exemplifications of his “British Quentin Tarantino” style, I cannot help but admit I’m just as big of a fan of his most recent work. The Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr., The Man from U.N.C.L.E. adaptation, and the unfairly panned King Arthur: Legend of the Sword are all also the work of Ritchie. In The Gentlemen, Ritchie appears to return to his roots of, give or take, twenty years ago and the film is so against the grain, so belligerent, that it works; The Gentlemen is a film that stands on its own. It is often discussed whether or not a film like Tropic Thunder could exist in today’s climate, and on the topic of how offensive you can get whilst maintaining mild success, The Gentlemen may be the closest thing we see. Some movies like to throw the word f*** around, The Gentlemen enjoys using the word c***…a lot; the film’s dialogue is nothing short of rapidly paced and profane. Characters break into preachy monologues that approach the quality of Tarantino, a semi-impressive feat considering Tarantino cannot be matched. And while some of the jokes are considerably insensitive, it is important to understand none of these characters are meant to be redeemable – they are all spreaders of vice. Ritchie aims to achieve not only an entertaining time at the cinema, but a comically cynical satire most scathingly directed at the intrusion of the press and the ethical corruption at the top of industrialism. The irony of the title should give it away, these men are anything but “gentlemen”.
My favorite aspect of The Gentlemen is the cast who truly bring the film to life. Matthew McConaughey is the epitome of cool, mostly nonchalant with spurts of ferocity. Charlie Hunnam, one of the more underrated actors in Hollywood, plays the level-headed right-hand man to McConaughey. In a scene where he breaks into a junkie pop-star’s apartment to rescue a “princess”, Hunnam devours the scenery like a champ – one of the more memorable moments of the film. Henry Golding who plays Dry Eye, the Chinese rival to Mickey Pearson, is menacingly wild as the mob-boss. Colin Farrell, in his more limited role as a boxing coach, is on point as the only character you can really sympathize with. However, within the first five minutes of the film I could tell who my favorite would be: Hugh Grant. He is the icing on the cake, the ribbon on the wrap, the star on top of the Christmas tree as Fletcher, a sleazy investigative journalist. Grant is barely recognizable in the role, masquerading behind a thick Cockney accent and orange-tinted shades. The whimsical Prime Minister we all know and love from Love Actually is dead.
The Gentlemen is a sprawling story with twists and turns, but maybe a little too sprawling. Between the monologuing and the rushes of violence, the pacing of the film is also inconsistent. Otherwise, I’m light on complaints. I liked this film a lot.