Review: The Gentlemen

The Gentlemen is a stylish crime caper with writer/director Guy Ritchie’s fingerprints all over it. It’s very much a “Guy” movie – and a “guy movie”, with a splash of estrogen provided by Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) in some lethal-looking Christian Louboutin stilettos. She’s surrounded by an A-list cast of chaps including Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant winding their way through a witty and wily narrative about drug syndicates, blackmail, bribery, murder and all-around mischievousness. The plot thickens, and thins, simmers and boils over to yield a dish that’s a bit messy, but still tastes good.

McConaughey inches back toward McCaugnaissance form as Mickey Pearson, an American expat who built a lucrative marijuana empire in London and is now looking to sell the business and ride off into the sunset with his smart, beautiful wife Rosalind (Dockery). If only it were so simple. As we learn from every crime drama involving drug kingpins, changes in management don’t always go over so well. There’s backstabbing, jostling for position and territory, lots of money exchanging hands, and more than a few dead bodies. In this case, the twists and turns are revealed – largely in flashback – within the framework of a discussion between Mickey’s “consigliere” Ray (Hunnam) and a deliciously duplicitous private detective (Grant) who makes a living peddling sensitive information to the highest bidder. He knows where the bodies are buried, so to speak.

The Gentlemen is both sophisticated and campy. A dark comedy peppered with action, intrigue, violence, sexual references (some involving a pig), cinematic homages (including to Ritchie’s own films – keep an eye out for the The Man from U.N.C.L.E. poster), a few cringeworthy ewwww moments, and way too many utterances of a certain four-letter ‘c’ word relating to the female anatomy. Just enough to constantly remind women in the audience that a guy wrote the movie. I generally like Ritchie’s films (an interesting mix that includes Snatch, RocknRolla, Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and mysteriously enough, the live action Aladdin). He knows how to keep things moving. The Gentlemen is no exception, though the guys around me seemed far more enamored. Maybe they were more dialed into the ‘cool factor’ overtly expressed at every possible turn – from the stylized opening credits to the designer suits to the hip soundtrack. I thought it was a tad self-indulgent, but hey, maybe it’s a guy thing. Overall, an entertaining flick.

 

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