Safe and Familiar Fun: Our Review of ‘The Gentlemen’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - January 22, 2020
Safe and Familiar Fun: Our Review of ‘The Gentlemen’

Sometimes in life, you just need a win…

While The Gentlemen is hardly anything new or original, it’s an effective trip down memory lane of glory years past from Writer/Director Guy Ritchie with this highly entertaining gangster yarn.

The Gentlemen follows American expat Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) who built a highly profitable marijuana empire in London. When word gets out that he’s looking to cash out of the business forever it triggers plots, schemes, bribery and blackmail in an attempt to steal his domain out from under him.

With a loaded to the hilt ensemble cast, The Gentlemen is one of those movies that in spite of the occasionally convoluted moment is really only aiming for affable and entertaining at the best of times.  While it’s hard to deny that everyone involved in this deserves to be working with better material, there’s nothing wrong with a spot of fun and a flash back to some gangster filled glory days for Guy Ritchie.

To say that writer/director Guy Ritchie’s track record after his first two hits with Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels & Snatch has been a little hit and miss would be a kind understatement.  For every Sherlock Holmes there was a Swept Away but here with The Gentlemen he clearly settles back into his wheelhouse of foul mouthed crime with a tinge of humor.  It’s not a bad thing to be sure, but it does smack as an obvious safe play from very early on the proceedings.

Told in a roundabout, narrated kind of fashion the film obviously looks pretty good and has a legitimate flow to it all from top to bottom.  While it’s admittedly a little over stuffed with characters he does at least put in the effort to establish most of them in an effective fashion.  It’s all following some very familiar and well worn beats throughout that audiences will have very much seen before, but Ritchie runs through them with top notch execution to the point that you won’t really mind that you’ve seen this story before, and that OK.  Ultimately because it’s all fun to watch, never once really wanting to reinvent the wheel,  it just wants to have some very comfortable kind of cinematic fun.  It’s basically the silver screen equivalent of comfort food and you won’t be able to help yourself from gobbling it all up.

Yeah, we’ll admit that there really isn’t a lot of character work going on here as McConaughey basically channels a version of the cool, slick guy that he’s made a cottage industry of playing.  He’s only asked to be charming and affable, even if he is playing a criminal and McConaughey more or less plays him to an effortless tee.  Charlie Hunnam is solid as his heavy and second in command while the likes of Hugh Grant and Colin Farrell get to chew a little bit of scenery all around him and while Henry Golding does feel a little out of his element here, you can forgive it because he’s basically surrounded by a master class of being cool and a little over the top.  Michelle Dockery, Eddie Marsan and Jeremy Strong round it all out well enough in support.

Ultimately, The Gentlemen does feel a little too safe and unoriginal at times but it’s counterbalanced by some genuine humor, some fun scene chewing performances and a carefree sense of fun that you can feel was around during production as it seeps out on the big screen.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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