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The Gentlemen – Movie Review

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The Gentlemen – Movie Review

Rating: D+ (Bad)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy VVS Films

Early in his career, Guy Ritchie specialized in crime films known for fast editing and crooks with a wide variety of regional accents and nicknames. Since moving to Hollywood, he has been taking part in bigger productions based on familiar IP and with less of his trademarks making their way in. With The Gentlemen, he returns to his old stomping grounds and immediately unleashes his tricks within the first five minutes. Despite the solid cast brought on board, there is little attachment to what’s going on as Ritchie employs an annoying structure and humour that winks at the audience a little too much.

The Gentlemen feels like a product of the post-Tarantino generation of filmmakers, as it attempts to play with narrative and show off its knowledge of film history. The whole movie is presented in flashbacks as told by Hugh Grant’s enthusiastic reporter. This isn’t a bad way to present the story, but the structural choices frustrate more than anything. The whole film feels a little too cheeky in its approach with Grant constantly dropping references, sometimes to far superior films. Beyond the framing devise with Grant and Charlie Hunnam, there are many other characters we’re required to follow. However, they’re not the most interesting personalities, although the actors certainly try their best.

Most of the humour in The Gentlemen is of the crass type that tries incredibly hard to be edgy. An abundance of f-bombs and c-words are dropped into the dialogue and every one of them feels forced. There is a theme underneath the vulgarity and carnage on the responsibility of the media and the relish with which tabloid papers attempt to take famous people down. It would have been nice if the movie had explored this issue further, but it’s barely a footnote in the plot. We’re instead driven into a story involving an accidental death and a conflict between drug lords, which had the potential to be darkly comic in an Ealing Studios kind of way. Unfortunately, it stops short of being amusing or clever.

Ritchie’s direction goes heavy on the slow-motion and the constant narration, although the latter is somewhat justified due to how the story is being told. He is able to get some strong performances from his cast. Matthew McConaughey portrays his businessman with a certain calmness, but his rage comes out in the appropriate spots. Colin Farrell is another stand-out as a gym owner who gets frustrated by everyone around him. Hugh Grant has been having fun with his late career roles and that continues here. If one wants to pretend this is his character from Paddington 2 putting on another performance, they could actually do that.

Guy Ritchie has proven himself capable of making entertaining crime films with darkly comic overtones. Snatch similarly used a lot of techniques featured in The Gentlemen, but did them in a more satisfying manner. The Gentlemen just becomes a headache after a while and it lacks any sort of subtlety. The weirdly meta approach taken with this film could have been fresh and funny, but even that feels overdone and starts to grate on the nerves after a while. The Gentlemen is the kind of movie that thinks it’s smarter than it actually is. One can see Ritchie’s passion for the material, due to him going down this well a few times before, but there are only so many times you can listen to the same sort of story directed in the same fashion.

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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