It has been a while since we have had a good old fashioned gangsta flick, and even longer since we had one from “one of the best in the biz”, Mr Guy Ritchie.
In fact, it’s probably as far back as 2008 when he brought us RocknRolla, since we had a gangsta flick from him, but worry not, for the former Madonna-husband is back with, The Gentlemen, and it is every bit as good as you hoped.
The Gentlemen is a funny crime film, with Ritchie giving us the run-around as he usually does. It has some brilliant performances, with Hugh Grant absolutely stealing the show, and a welcome return to the inventive language Ritchie gave us in his early films.
Whilst casting has always been a strong suit from Mr Ritchie, he has outdone himself here, which is largely down to the one and only, Hugh Grant (“Paddington 2“, “Love Actually”).
Grant plays Fletcher, an investigative reporter, and it is via Fletcher, recounting his story to Raymond, Charlie Hunnam (“Sons Of Anarchy (TV)”, “Pacific Rim”), that we are told the story of The Gentlemen, or to give him his actual name, Mickey Pearson, Matthew McConaughey (“White Boy Rick“, “The Dark Tower“).
Fletcher has been asked by his boss Eddie Marsan (“Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw“, “Deadpool 2“) to dig the dirt on Pearson and put an end to him and his dealings, of which he has many, and exclusively in weed.
Fletcher is good at what he does and manages to piece together a whole jigsaw involving turf wars, newcomers to the trade, old-hands, accidental gangsters, unwitting gangsters and a whole lot of accidents.
This introduces us to Mathew, Jeremy Strong (“Molly’s Game“, “The Big Short“), the Coach, Colin Farrell (“The Lobster“, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.“), Dry Eye, Henry Golding (“Crazy Rich Asians“, “Last Christmas”) and a whole bunch of kids trying to act tough, or get stoned, or both.
As Fletcher recounts what he’s seen, and photographed, to Raymond, Ritchie delights in showing us what has happened, or sometimes what Fletcher has made up, and then what actually happened.
Grant does all this with a very cheeky smile, and a strange accent, whilst Hunnam keeps a straight face throughout, seething at this man’s knowledge. It’s a brilliant thrust and parry between the two that Ritchie shoots in a stripped back way.
McConaughey is as we have come to expect these days, full of charm and seriousness. He manages to portray menacing, frustrated and madly in love with his wife Rosalind, Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey”, “Non-Stop”), all at once.
There are some truly, very funny scenes in The Gentlemen, some which I imagine may not be everyone’s cup of tea, though I’d question why you’d go and watch a Guy Ritchie film in that case.
Anyway, the short discussion between Farrell and Hunnam as he explains who Phuc, Jason Wong (“Solo: A Star Wars Story“, “Strangers (TV)”), is and why he’s in his boot (trunk). Or Farrell explaining to one of his “accidental gangsters”, how one of his others was justified in calling him a “black c*nt”.
As always with Ritchie, the dialogue is short and snappy, cutting without ever going too far, although, despite Grant speaking almost throughout the entirety of the movie, it feels less than say Lock Stock.
The Gentlemen is a welcome relief from the war of stars or Marvelness that is hard to turn away from recently, and it is good to see Ritchie do what he does best.