by Philip Price
Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam & Michelle Dockery
Runtime: 1 hour & 53 minutes
Given my 1987 born ass has always been a fan of writer/director Guy Ritchie's (“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” “Snatch”) post-Tarantino style that pummels you with said style until you are essentially forced by submission into appreciating it one wouldn't be wrong in recognizing that Ritchie has strayed from that which made him a star in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s as his most recent, studio-centric efforts (“King Arthur” and “Aladdin”) have not only leaned toward the more conventional in their style, but also in their storytelling. 2015's “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” was our first glimpse at the next step in Ritchie's evolution as it was meant to be (no, I didn't see “Revolver,” but have heard terrible, terrible things) delivering an action/spy thriller very much in line with the attitude of his earlier work while possessing a more refined, more finessed outward style. If the Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law ‘Sherlock Holmes’ films were the apex of early Ritchie style with a big studio mentality then “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” was Ritchie evolving before our eyes and taking it a couple of steps further than he needed to just to ensure us he was in fact maturing.
With his return to form as it were though, Ritchie's “The Gentlemen” finds the filmmaker striking the best balance yet between his past and his contemporary status among his contemporaries. A more subdued and self-aware English gangster romp than his first few features, “The Gentlemen” compiles many of Ritchie's most recognizable tropes including classic English geezer names and clever overlapping narratives, but most importantly it retains the sense of fun those early films were regarded for as the film’s pomp and wit are at full exposure more so in the characters than they are anything having to do with the double-crossing, drug-dealing plot we've seen and heard countless times before.
As led by Matthew McConaughey's suave American Businessman in England, Mickey Pearson, who's right-hand man Ray (Charlie Hunnam) is being relayed said story by slimy journalist and aspiring screenwriter Fletcher (Hugh Grant) concerning the many layers of deceit occurring within Mickey's attempt to distance himself from the hustle and sell off his lucrative business it is Fletcher's hope some of the story revelations might in fact be revelations to Ray and Mickey's organization alike. With rival characters such as Henry Golding's wannabe gangster, "Dry Eye", to Jeremy Strong's billionaire who is likely to purchase Mickey's well-oiled machine of a cannabis dispensary and on down to Colin Farrell's "Coach" who inadvertently gets involved by trying to do the right thing while being completely capable of handling all the ugly things Mickey's circumstances require of him, “The Gentlemen” has no shortage of interesting perspectives to draw upon. Add in Michelle Dockery of “Downton Abbey” fame as Mickey's take no guff wife and Ritchie's grown-up approach begins to make more sense in its less feverish, more studied approach while never becoming what one would describe as a "calm" movie because, for all the maturity and growth Ritchie shows here he knows he's still making a movie about a bunch of "proper handsome c***s".