Main cast: Matthew McConaughey (Mickey Pearson), Charlie Hunnam (Raymond), Henry Golding (Dry Eye), Michelle Dockery (Rosalind Pearson), Jeremy Strong (Matthew Berger), Eddie Marsan (Big Dave), Colin Farrell (Coach), Hugh Grant (Fletcher), Chidi Ajufo (Bunny), Jason Wong (Phuc), Brittany Ashworth (Ruby), Samuel West (Lord Pressfield), Eliot Sumner (Laura Pressfield), Lyne Renée (Jackie), Chris Evangelou (Primetime), Franz Drameh (Benny), Bugzy Malone (Ernie), Tom Wu (Lord George)
Director: Guy Ritchie
I’m not going to lie: I am already in line to watch The Gentlemen the moment I know Charlie Hunnam is in it. I know, I know! It’s embarrassing. He did nothing for me when he was in Queer as Folk, but now that he is older and scruffier, well, let’s just say that I like looking at him a lot. He also isn’t shy about ditching his clothes, which is another plus. He keeps everything on here, sadly, but he may be one of the very few men who could sport such Amish-style beard and still make me want to rub my hand through all that facial hair.
Okay, I’ll stop now before I embarrass myself further. Aside from Mr Hunnam, Hugh Grant makes me feel embarrassed by how hot he looks here too, and Colin Farrell really makes it easy for me to go ooh when he’s all greasy and scruffy, like he is here. All in all, this movie is like a suited, working class equivalent of those old Abercrombie and Fitch catalogues: the men here are such eye candy that I have a hard time recalling much of the plot.
Let me try. Okay, we have marijuana mogul Mickey Pearson, an American who has managed to carve a name and a lucrative empire for himself in the UK. Despite his ruthlessness, he is completely devoted and even meek when it comes to his wife Rosalind. Meanwhile, his left hand man is Raymond, a quiet and efficient man with some degree of OCD.
Pearson’s problems unknowingly begins when he publicly snubs Big Dave, the self-important and insufferable editor of the tabloid Daily Print, at a party in front of everyone. A specialist in ruining careers and reputation of the high and mighty, Big Dave hires sleazy PI Fletcher to dig all he can about Pearson for a ruinous exposé. After getting all he can, Pearson however decides to hawk his findings to Raymond for £20 million pounds. The theatrical Fletcher’s revelations of his findings to Raymond, whom he has a one-sided lust for, frames the narrative of this movie.
Meanwhile, Pearson wants to retire and lead a more normal life with Rosalind, who is skeptical about her husband’s ability to enjoy such a life. He offers his business to another American expatriate, Matthew Berger, who runs a competing drug business in the UK. Dry Eye, an officer of the Chinese organized crime syndicate leader Lord George, makes an offer to Pearson too, only to be basically laughed at and ridiculed by that man.
Shortly after, some upstarts raid one of Pearson’s hidden weed lab and run off with a good amount of products. Mortified when he learns of his wards’ antics and fearing for their lives, the owner of the local gym known by the moniker Coach offers the services of himself to Pearson and Raymond as long as his wards are spared of reprisal. Like most of the leading men in this story, Coach is a deadly fighting machine, so those two accept his offer and he will soon regret that, heh.
That’s basically it for the premise. One thing about The Gentlemen is that, despite all the framing techniques and gimmicks in this movie, the twists and turns are actually predictable and can be seen coming if one pays attention to the whole thing. Perhaps this is deliberate, I don’t know, as there is a possibility that Guy Ritchie, who also wrote the script, is relying on his wit and the narrative gimmicks to liven up the proceedings.
The “wit” is clunky and laborious, and I find myself cringing most of the time. Mr Ritchie can argue that the cringe-inducing use of awkward analogies is part of Matthew Berger’s character, but Berger isn’t the only one who does that – Pearson, Raymond, Dry Eye, and Fletcher all do that too. There is a very “How do you do, fellow kids?” vibe to the whole thing, as if Mr Ritchie were trying a little too hard to update his way with words to what he imagines kids today would appreciate.
On the other hand, I appreciate the complete lack of political correctness in the movie. Every race and sexual orientation gets insulted with equal opportunity, and it makes perfect sense considering that this movie is about criminals and their hangers-on; these people aren’t going to be charm school graduates. Sadly, that’s as far as my appreciation goes, as the clumsy efforts at wit and edgy humor means that my cringe persists for much of the movie.
The acting is stellar, though. Sure, you can argue that you have seen these characters before in other Guy Ritchie movies, and I won’t disagree, but the actors give their all and have a good time, from the looks of it, in the process. Even the normally milquetoast Henry Golding doesn’t seem so much like a mannequin now that he’s playing a bad guy. I won’t lie, I would love to see a show where Fletcher and Raymond bask in their hate-flirtation glory all day long. I would pay for the porn, too. Okay, pretend I never said that.
At the end of the day, yes, The Gentlemen sees Guy Ritchie doing what he does best, but at the same time, it also lacks the bite and refreshing candor of his better crime movies. This one feels a little more artificially constructed, if I am making sense here. Still, I can look at these guys all day long, and that’s a good thing in a way.