The Gentlemen is a highly stylized, well-written gangster romp that’s entertaining as hell. Writer/director Guy Ritchie has outdone himself in his latest work with one of the best works of his career. The Gentlemen manages to combine the wit of Snatch, the action from Revolver, with the style of Man from U.N.C.L.E., and it’s better written than those three films. The film certainly shows the type of growth Ritchie has undergone over the years. Most of his projects are either heavy with wit or action, but we’ve never seen this type of balance in any of his previous films.
The story centers around Mickey (Matthew McConaughey), Ray (Charlie Hunnam), and Fletcher (Hugh Grant). Fletcher is a private investigator who seemingly has dirt on all the rich and powerful in London. His goal is always looking to sell to the highest bidder. Now it seems that this sleuth has dirt on Mickey, who happens to be the weed Lord of England. Getting in the way of his plans is Mickey’s desire to sell and get out of the business. At this point, we begin to get all those double-crosses, bloody confrontations, and gunfights, which are common in any number of Ritchie’s films.
McConaughey is terrific as Mickey. He’s smooth, controlling, and with just enough crazy to make his portrayal believable. As Coach, Colin Farrell is reliable as always, playing a pivotal in all of this insanity. Jeremy Strong’s portrayal of Matthew provides Ritchie with the perfect antagonist for this narrative. However, the man who will get most of the praise in The Gentlemen is Grant. The veteran actor dons over the top sunglasses, grows out his facial hair, and gives the right affectation and immediately grabs the audience’s attention. He’s undoubtedly into Ray (Hunnam) and multiple times expresses his desire to sleep with him. Fletcher is the straw that stirs the cauldron of insanity in The Gentlemen. In Fletcher, Ritchie has crafted quite a memorable character.
Perhaps the only criticism about the film would center around the characters played by Michelle Dockery and Henry Golding. Dockery is grossly underused in the film. Every time, Rosalind (Mickey’s wife, played by Dockery) she had such chemistry with her on-screen husband. There’s one action sequence involving a “paperweight” that everyone will be talking long after seeing the film. Golding portrays a gangster named Dry Eye and embodies every Asian stereotype possible. It’s odd that a film can have such well-written characters like Fletcher and one that’s so lazily constructed.
Cinematography plays a key role in The Gentlemen. DP Alan Stewart manages to use camera angles that give the audience a perspective on who is the focus during each scene of the film. The action scenes are eye-popping and creative. The production design gives the film an exciting backdrop, making use of original structures with appealing colors. Everyone will be raving about the costume design and rightly so. Each character’s look not only matched their personality but enhanced the enjoyment of the film.
The Gentlemen is set for release from STX Films on January 24th.