After the big budget train wreck that was King Arthur: Legend of the Sword in 2017, and the big budget Disney remake of Aladdin last year, Guy Ritchie has returned to the comedy gangster roots where he made his name more than two decades ago. It’s the kind of movie that I’m not really a fan of if I’m honest, and I didn’t even like the look of the trailer for The Gentlemen either, but I gave it a shot. I’m glad I did.
Matthew McConaughey is Mickey Pearson, a sharp suit wearing, self made millionaire. Mickey made his fortune by initially selling weed to students while studying with them at Oxford, before spending the next 20 years building up a nationwide marijuana empire. It’s a slick operation too – by striking up deals with British aristocrats who are struggling to maintain their large stately homes, Mickey has been able to setup 12 marijuana farms on their premises and kept them undetected. However, Mickey is now looking to sell up and retire so that he can buy himself one of those big stately homes for him and his ice queen wife (Michelle Dockery). But it’s not quite as easy as that. There are a number of interested parties who either want to screw the price down or just take the whole operation from under Mickey’s feet. And the king of the jungle isn’t having any of it.
The story plays out under the narration of sleazy reporter Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who has turned up on the doorstep of Mickey’s right hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) one evening in order to try and blackmail his boss. Fletcher has been hired by a tabloid editor to dig up dirt on Mickey Pearson and has been closely following the events and players surrounding the sale of his business. Fletcher has decided that what he’s uncovered could be worth a hell of a lot more than the £150K promised by the newspaper and has turned his findings into a movie script which he then proceeds to describe to Raymond throughout the movie. Along the way, details are embellished by Fletcher to spice up certain moments that he feels are lacking in action, corrected by Raymond as we rewind to see the actual events.
The Gentlemen features a big ensemble cast, most of which give a brilliantly hilarious performance. Hugh Grant steals the show, with his campy Michael Caine. Along the way we meet Chinese rival Dry Eye (Henry Golding, redeeming himself after his wooden performance in Last Christmas recently) and Coach (another show stealer, played by Colin Farrell).
The pacing of The Gentlemen felt spot on for me, and as the story flipped back and forth in time, interspersed with Fletcher and Raymond’s comic interludes, I never felt bored. There are plenty of twists and turns, c-bombs and much more of what you’d expect from a Ritchie movie of this kind. But it also feels a lot slicker and more mainstream, with most of the violence occurring off screen – apart from the odd cocky young chav or drug addict getting the occasional well deserved slap!
Overall, I’m so glad I gave this movie a chance. A great cast and a fun story with plenty of laugh out loud moments.
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