Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery
Director: Guy Ritchie
You don’t have to like all of Guy Ritchie’s movies, but you have to admit he’s a creative and interesting writer. He does exactly what he sets out to do and isn’t necessarily concerned with the financial ramifications. He’s unapologetically him and that’s prevalent here in The Gentlemen. As an homage to the great action movies of the 1970s The Gentlemen works very well at blending an interesting plot and funny dialogue. While some of these moments end up falling flat, The Gentlemen is a more than respectable movie in a month where very few of these come out.
The film follows Mickey Pearson (McConaughey), an American who lives in England and operates the largest illegal marijuana business in the country. When he plans on selling his business to the dismay of rival busiman Dry Eye (Golding), Mickey and his allies must survive the onslaught of their new foe and hope to keep their business alive. Starting with the acting, The Gentlemen shows what happens when you have an ensemble cast that truly cares about the performance they’re giving. Between McConaughey, Hunnam, Golding, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant, you have a good balance of both established and rising stars and there’s enough breathing room for everyone to be themselves and embrace the roles they’ve been given. A cast like this is usually something I would end up seeing in November, but having this come out in January isn’t exactly something I complain about. When these actors are also given a script that allows them to be truly funny and eccentric, it shows that Ritchie put a tremendous amount of care in this movie. That being said, even if the chemistry is phenomenal and the humor works predominantly to reflect on what action movies looked like in the past, there’s still some problems that stem from Ritchie’s traditional campy style. Most of them stem from the aforementioned humor and how sometimes it pushes the envelope for the sake of pushing the envelope. For example, Golding’s character and Grant’s characters have comments made about them because they’re Asian and gay, but they aren’t always done with the level of tact and finesse necessary for the joke to land. Sure it reflects what these types of movies used to look like, but blatantly calling someone “Chinaman” or “fairy” doesn’t translate well for modern audiences. There’s a fine line between an homage and a movie that doesn’t belong in this era, and unfortunately The Gentlemen has a tough time finding that line. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good movie for the season and something that many audiences will enjoy, but it’s just not fine-tuned enough to make it one of the early elite movies of the year. For Ritchie, even though his career focuses much more on commercial success and less on critical success, he seems to have found a middle ground with The Gentlemen and provides us with something that both has merit and is something audiences can enjoy.
Overall, I get worried when I see McConaughey leading another January movie after last year’s Serenity, but he really turned it around and is off to a good start. For Ritchie, The Gentlemen is a step up from Aladdin, and it makes me curious to see what he has in store coming up. He has such a unique style as an auteur, and while it doesn’t always work in his favor, it works well enough here to accomplish its goals. In a month that’s almost exclusively filled with movies that are nothing but garbage, I’m happy to see that The Gentlemen won’t be a movie that follows that trend.
Overall Score: 6.5/10