The films of Guy Ritchie have been a mixed bag for me. When he’s good you get great films like Snatch or The Man From U.N.C.L.E but when he’s bad you get films like Revolver or Swept Away. It is clear that Ritchie is more comfortable doing gangster films than big blockbusters so when I heard that Ritchie was returning to the gangster scene with The Gentlemen I was pretty interested, especially when the cast list was revealed. The film itself though I thought was pretty boring on the whole.
The film focuses on Mickey Pearson, an American who has created a highly profitable marijuana empire in the UK looking to retire from the game. When word gets out that he is retiring this triggers a gang war over who gains control over the business. Now in terms of the general plot, this is a pretty generic gangster film. Everything in the plot has been done dozens of times before and I just found myself getting pretty bored watching the film. It’s not exactly done bad, but it feels like Ritchie is coasting. There are some bright spots in the film, but this is due more to the cast. What makes the film stand out though is not the gangster element but the meta elements. One of the main elements of the film is that the story is being recounted by a private investigator who has written a screenplay of what happens in the film and I think this meta element, including him discussing how the plot of the film works and how to present it, is the most intriguing part of the film. It is in these elements that Ritchie is having the most fun, acting as sort of a commentary on his whole career and having characters be embellished and stereotyped at first because that’s how they are normally presented in gangster films. There is a life to the film in these sections that I wish was in the rest of the film.
The performances meanwhile are pretty solid, albeit nothing special for the most part. Matthew McConaughey is clearly having fun as Mickey and gives some life to the film in the angrier moments of the film, but for most of the film he just plays a standard Matthew McConaughey character, nothing wrong with that but nothing special. Charlie Hunnam meanwhile I found to be pretty boring for most of the film. I get what he was going for, showing a straight man role to Mickey, but his performance just comes across as dull. Jeremy Strong and Henry Golding meanwhile are fine if underutilised, Golding in particular isn’t given enough chances to show his natural charm. Michelle Dockery is giving a decent performance, having echos of Helen Mirren in The Long Good Friday, although the direction taken with her character in the third act rubbed me the wrong way. There is some fun to be had with Eddie Marsan and Bugzy Malone in the film, but the standouts, and the people who give the film life, are Hugh Grant and Colin Farrell. Grant has been on fire the past few years with work like Paddington 2 and A Very English Scandal and here he does a great job playing a slimy, conniving private investigator, the nasally voice giving the character a unique presence in the film and the fun Grant is clearly having does translate to fun watching the film. Colin Farrell meanwhile continues to prove that he’s at his best when he performs with his natural Irish accent. He’s just a blast every time he’s on screen, having a lot of the best lines and working well with the rest of the cast to create a pretty interesting character for the world of this film, acting as a coach who works with Mickey to pay off a debt some of the people he’s coached have got him into. Whilst the film is fairly generic on the whole, when Grant and Farrell are on screen you can see the life that Ritchie wanted to create in the film.
The technical elements of the film are a mixed bag as well. Most of the film is fairly generically shot for a gangster film, not really having the flair you expect from a Guy Ritchie gangster film. What flair there is in the film is confined to the meta elements as previously mentioned. Everything else in the film just doesn’t stand out and adds to the feeling of boredom I had watching the film.
Overall, The Gentlemen is just a generic, boring film. Whilst some life is added to the film by the meta elements and the performances from Hugh Grant and Colin Farrell, most of the film is just generic and if you’ve seen one of Guy Ritchie’s gangster films you’ve seen this one. I’d almost be tempted to recommend Revolver over this as at least that was an interesting disaster, here, I just felt nothing watching the film.
My Rating: 2/5