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Review: The Gentlemen (2020)

The Gentlemen (2020)

Directed by: Guy Ritchie

Premise: The owner of an illicit marijuana empire (Matthew McConaughey) courts a deal to sell his operation to an American billionaire. Meanwhile, a gangster angles to take over the business.

What Works: The Gentlemen is very much a Guy Ritchie film. The characters are fast-talking hustlers involved in organized crime who speak dialogue that is both glib and coarse. The narrative is told out of sequence and the film uses hyperkinetic camerawork and rapid editing. Its characters are violent criminals but they also have a distinct sense of integrity and the story hinges upon these characters maintaining that integrity or responding to those who are less scrupulous. The Gentlemen ticks all of the boxes familiar to Guy Ritchie’s work and whether or not viewers get anything out of it will largely depend on whether they responded to his other films like Snatch, Sherlock Holmes, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The Gentlemen benefits from some good casting, namely Matthew McConaughey in the lead role as the mastermind of a marijuana empire and Charlie Hunnam as his assistant. The cast also includes impressive supporting performances by Colin Farrell as a boxing coach and Hugh Grant as a journalist. These characters are colorful but also empathetic and the actors do a lot to make the film credible.

What Doesn’t: Anyone who has seen Guy Ritchie’s other gangster films will have a sense of déjà vu while watching The Gentlemen. It isn’t that Ritchie is actively remaking the same movie over again; there is enough here that is distinct to make The Gentleman its own film. But like the many adaptations of Nicholas Sparks’ romance novels, Guy Ritchie’s gangster films start to run together. There’s little sense that Ritchie is challenging himself as a filmmaker and he pushes some of his stylistic qualities too far. Ritchie’s work is distinguished by its kinetic qualities. The camera is constantly moving and the editing is frantic. That becomes a problem here because the filmmaking is so agitated that the action is hard to follow. The style exacerbates the problems of the narrative which jumps all over the timeline. The ultimate problem is that, in the end, the frenzied style comes across as an attempt to distract from the vacuity of the movie. The Gentlemen doesn’t really have anything to say and certainly not anything that Guy Ritchie hasn’t already said, and said better, in his other movies.

DVD extras: Featurettes, image gallery.

Bottom Line: The Gentlemen is a mediocre gangster picture. Fans of Guy Ritchie’s similar movies will want to check it out but the movie is too scattershot and too empty.

Episode: #798 (April 26, 2020)