A somewhat basic story taken to new heights by brilliant casting and direction from Guy Ritchie.
Rare for a gritty action film, The Gentlemen manages to successfully instil hope in its audience while also filling them with an equal amount of fear. Given an 18 certificate for constant obscene language rather than intense graphic violence, this London-based gangster operation focuses more on character development than continuous gore. That being said, Guy Ritchie’s film does feature a heavy amount of weaponry and beautifully shot blood splatters that create plenty of tense and uncertain feelings.
Immediately, the film shows what appears to be the ending of the story. However, the details of the events leading up to this are then interspersed throughout, leading us down a path where we are trying to gauge where it all goes wrong. Fulfilling the position of slimy tabloid reporter, Hugh Grant switches it up from his usual one-dimensional character in favour of something worth watching. He tells the majority of the story, in conversation with second-in-command mobster Ray (Charlie Hunnam), delicately slipping in and out of past and present tense. The twisted tale of American businessman Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is relayed, of the creation of his vast marijuana empire and those he has upset along on the way to the top. It’s only when he tries to sell his business (which is of colossal value) that things start to go awry for Pearson, as it is only obtainable by a certain kind of buyer. Let chaos, double-crossing, and murder commence.
McConaughey leads well as the expat American, whose self-sacrificing character shows genuine emotion throughout and produces a sense of empathy from the audience. The supporting cast is stupendous, with Colin Farrell as Coach and Michelle Dockery as Mickey’s wife Rosalind bringing life to side characters whose arcs are as intriguing as the main plot. The most surprising and perhaps most hilarious performance is from Grant, carrying the film to a very twisted and dramatic conclusion. His character Fletcher is one that most will have seen before but Grant is almost unrecognisable in the role, pulling it off with such a flair and comedic touch that it is a surprise that he has been cast as anything else before.
What is so great about The Gentlemen is its refreshing take from a number of angles. Dockery plays a smart, self-sufficient woman and her chemistry with McConaughey is almost tangible. It is clear a lot of thought went into how their relationship would be presented; Ritchie has developed a sweet and essentially equal union between the characters. This isn’t the only relationship that is well-developed in the film. As the instantly likeable Coach, Farrell’s sole purpose is to add a sense of morality and an underlying rationale for most of the well-directed fight scenes. His relationship with the boys he trains to box seems undeniably genuine and adds more emotional depth to the surrounding events.
There’s no fat on this film; there is no part of The Gentlemen that even has a tint of irrelevance. Every action and line has some meaning – and there are no questions left cruelly unanswered. This doesn’t mean that the film is boring or predictable, just that it leaves a fulfilling feeling. The plot frequently alludes to new twists and turns, enough to make it an always-exciting watch, but not to an extent that leave it messy and confused. A satisfying narrative peppered with well-timed violence and splattered with hilarity makes The Gentlemen a must-see for lovers of almost every genre.
The Gentlemen, directed by Guy Ritchie, is distributed in the UK by Entertainment Film Distributors, certificate 18.