I have to admit, I was not the biggest fan of a lot of Guy Ritchie’s more recent releases. Man from Uncle was a brave attempt at launching a big budget franchise series for the studio, but it never quite struck the right note with audiences that were perhaps not as familiar with the brand as Ritchie hoped, and the less said about King Arthur the better.
It would seem that Ritchie had directed himself into a corner, and the only logical thing to do was to continue doing what he had previously done so well. The Gentlemen harks back to his days of Lock, Stock and Snatch, and although based on an idea from outside sources, Ritchie directs and writes the screenplay with ease.
If you didn’t know this was a Guy Ritchie film, you would within the first 15 minutes, as all the tell tale signs are there. There is an opening scene that is shocking and gripping, before we rewind to the events leading up to it, we are introduced to a number of characters that are both charming but dangerous, we have the memorable nick names given to the cast to help us cement their place in the proceedings, and multiple plot threads that you know will eventually all tie up in the third act.
The story follows drug lord Mickey Pearson played with Bond like aloofness by Michael McConaughey, who has made his billions in cannabis farms hidden perfectly in the English countryside. Pearson has decided though that he needs an exit strategy, so his business is up for sale to the highest bidders, and that starts a chain of events that twist and turn at every scene leading to a devastating climax.
Muddying the water is an investigator played by Hugh Grant that has secretly been following the affair and building his own master plan in the shadows. It must be said that Grant’s over the top almost pantomime performance is his best since Paddington 2 and he provides some of the films funniest moments. McConaughey’s right hand man Ray is played by Charlie Hunnam who gives a sterling stoic performance, alongside Colin Farrell as an Irish boxing coach who steals every scene he appears in as only Farrell can.
This movie zips along at a steady agreeable pace. Expect all the Ritchie trademarks because they are all here; Sassy female gangster mole, check. Sudden explosive violence, check. Multiple storylines all converging, check. Outrageous language and un pc humour, check. It’s all there, but delivered in style and fluidity that engages the viewer and keeps you guessing till the very end.
This stylish violent funny thriller may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s hard to fault the precision and delivery of this screenplay, and I am sure it will probably rub a small majority of viewers the wrong way, but I know exactly what Ritchie would say to them. This is definitely a return to form and if you like his material you will love this , and if you don’t then why bother plonking your money down in the first place.This film is exactly what you think it will be, and that’s why it succeeds.