Guy Ritchie is best known for his organized crime capers. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was released in 1998. It was followed by Snatch in 2000, RocknRolla in 2008, two Sherlock Holmes movies in 2009 and 2011, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E in 2015. In 2019 he directed the live-action remake of Aladdin. The Gentlemen gets back to his film making roots of Snatch and Lock, Stock, as we follow Mickey Pearson, portrayed by Matthew McConaughey, and Ray, his right-hand man, played by Charlie Hunnam, try to sell Pearson’s Weed empire. Dry Eye, played by Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians fame, attempts to foil the sale.
I don’t believe that Matthew McConaughey can do an accent, so he gets to play an American transplant and preserve his slow Texas drawl. His wife, Rosalind, is played by Michelle Dockery of Downton Abbey fame. I am so happy to see her in a new role. While still being a member of the wealthy class and scheming behind the scenes she has more dirt on her in this role. She slips into Cockney slang effortlessly and steals the scene from McConaughey.
The Gentlemen is a much easier film to follow than some of Ritchie’s earlier work. Hugh Grant plays Fletcher, a tabloid journalist looking for a big payday. Fletcher is trying to extort money from Pearson via Ray. The timeline of the movie has flashbacks to give us background on how we ended up at the current situation and where Fletcher got his information. Fletcher has already turned the events into a screenplay. The movie within a movie helps bind everything together in a nice organized package. Unlike the Irishman, there are only a half dozen characters that you need to keep track of, and they are all unique and distinct from each other. This movie feels a little trimmed down from Guy Ritchie’s earlier work.
The swearing and cockney accents were not cut from this movie, but the violence is. This is still an organized crime movie, but it is remarkably less violent than Snatch, or RocknRolla. It helps the movie appeal to a broader audience that otherwise might be turned off by gore. I watched Snatch as a teenager, so the swearing and violence felt like I was getting away with something. That same level of gruesome violence would feel juvenile now. Ritchie has had to work with Disney and Warner Brothers content editors, I think this has forced him to become a better director.
If you enjoy Guy Ritchie’s movies, outside of Aladdin, this movie will be enjoyable. Ritchie doesn’t break any new ground; he just firms up his foundation. This is a fast-talking, near two hours, British gangster movie. The movie creates a perfectly sized web that connects up in the end. Unlike American mob movies, the characters in The Gentlemen are all different. They all feel just clever enough to have obtained the power they currently have. If you are not a Guy Ritchie fan, this may not be the movie for you, it is instantly recognizable as his work.