Class and Crime Go Hand in Hand in Guy Ritchie’s New Gangster Flick “The Gentlemen”

The Gentlemen

What do you get when you mix British etiquette, gangsters, a marijuana empire, sleazy journalists, viral video MMA fighters, and a dash of Colin Farrell? A right and proper mix, son. 

The Gentlemen,” stars Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Hugh Grant, and Colin Farrell, written and directed by Guy Ritchie. The movie follows Mickey Pearson (McConaughey), an American-born British drug lord who’s looking to get out of the game and settle down. He proposes a deal with Matthew (Jeremy Strong), an Oklahoma billionaire who’s looking to make strides in the marijuana-dealing game. But, things go awry when the young, power-hungry Dry Eye (Henry Golding) comes in and rocks the boat.

Along for the ride is Mickey’s business savvy and sharp-witted wife, Rosalind (Michelle Dockery), his OCD, germ-phobic right-hand man Ray (Charlie Hunnam), and an assorted rogues gallery including sleazy private investigator Fletcher (Hugh Grant), corrupt newspaper editor Big Dave (Eddie Marsen), and Coach (Colin Farrell), a, well, coach who trains troubled youths in the ways of good morals, proper thought, and leg-scissor takedowns.

One thing I’ve always appreciated about Guy’s style is his manipulation of the film medium. His editing approach is often borderline chaotic, resembling the mind of an attention deficit. His use of quick cuts, speed-ups, rewinds, and fast-forwards make for a distinctive storytelling form. The sensory overload can be a bit much at times and distract from the movie itself. With “The Gentlemen,” however, it seems like Guy’s picked up on something: patience.

Guy demonstrates a good deal of restraint, and that’s not to say that there’s a leash on him. Quite the opposite! There’s nothing but confidence and surety in the film’s pace and editing. And that starts with a good script. The framework of this film is meticulously plotted, crafted and honed. Guy knows exactly where he wants the story to go and how to get there. 

The script’s verbiage is also quite a delight. To say that the dialogue is ‘Tarantino, but British’ feels like a disservice to the film’s writing. The characters’ phraseology and diction is an absolute highlight of Guy’s top-notch scripting magnified by a world-class ensemble acting at the top of their game, particularly a scene-stealing Colin Farrell, who delivers some of the film’s best laughs. Honestly, give me a spin-off with Coach and his boys doing their thing. I’d take that over another “Aladdin” any day of the week.  

It’s been a while since we’ve seen this flavor of director Guy Ritchie. He’s spent the last few years with big budgets and mixed results. The last time Guy worked with an original script was 2008’s “RocknRolla.” And I’ve enjoyed his recent stuff, but “The Gentlemen” feels like a nice return to form: an assured dance between a filmmaker and his material. The look is sophisticated and gorgeous, the wordplay is dynamic, and the film’s British wit crackles with glee. It’s top marks all around on this one.

Quick sidebar: Colin Farrell is a national treasure and we don’t deserve him.

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