The Gentlemen begins with the odious Fletcher (Hugh Grant) meets with Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) in an attempt to sell him his ‘movie script’. The script highlights Raymond’s boss, Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), as he is attempting to cash out his highly profitable London marijuana empire.
Director Guy Ritchie has had a bit of a dry run of late. Bursting onto the scene with the quick-paced, cool and hilarious Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, Ritchie has had little success in moving away from the ‘Norf’ London gangster genre: Swept Away was an unmitigated disaster, Aladdin was an odd experience, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was not picked up as a franchise starter, nor was the video-game/Marvel movie inspired King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
Going back to his roots, Ritchie thrusts the audience quickly into the thick of things as Grant’s greasy Fletcher attempts to blackmail Raymond and Mickey. We’re thrown into the story via a creative, albeit unreliable narrator as we learn the ins-and-outs of Mickey, his drug operation and the sea of criminals who not only want to buy Mickey out, but to swindle him out of the game altogether. McConaughey thankfully keeps his Southern drawl while all others are heavy on the cockney: Michelle Dockery hilariously stands worlds apart from her Downton Abbey days.
Effortlessly dancing between the quick-paced main action and the sparring narrators telling it, Ritchie delivers an experience not unlike Tarantino and Scorsese.
Verdict: A surprisingly entertaining effort. Vintage Guy Richie.
The Gentlemen 4.5 stars.
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