This is the kind of movie that looks great in trailers and in movie posters. Ripper cast, guns, slick suits, drugs and fast cars, how can it miss? Unfortunately, Guy Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen” is all flash and dazzle with very little below the surface and nowhere near enough to maintain my interest for the entire run. I enjoyed moments of this, there are some talented actors on show here (especially Hugh Grant) but the film itself never really finds it’s feet.
It’s not really that funny, the action is slow and drawn out, there are far too many sub-plots and unnecessary characters to keep track of and the mobster antics are confusing and somehow never rises above the petulance of little kids. It’s not trying to be Scorsese, and it didn’t have to be! If this followed a simple plotline, cut most of the fluff and let three or four gun actors do their thing this would have been a good bit of fun. There’s a solid, entertaining premise here, but “The Gentlemen” is almost completely forgettable, (even immediately after the credits I struggled to remember or figure out what exactly happened).
I don’t even know how to summarise this; Hugh Grant plays two bit tabloid journalist Fletcher who is attempting to blackmail druglords Micky Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) and his henchman Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) with stories of their no-goodery. The film basically plays out with Fletcher narrating to Raymond his understanding of what happened, with Pearson seeking to cash out of his marijuana empire and the deluge of corruption, bribery and backstabbing that ensues as his competitors seek to pull it out from under him.
Performance wise, it’s pretty consistent across the board. McConaughey’s rugged swagger translates well as Micky and Hugh Grant is good fun as the sleazy and squirmy Fletcher. Colin Farrell and Henry Golding are perfectly fine as rival gangsters and Farrell himself has a couple of real zingers (particularly in one scene in which he tells one of his henchmen that it wasn’t racist for someone to call him a black c*nt, since he was black and he was a c*nt). Michelle Dockery was particularly good as Mickey’s wife Rosalind, in fact to me she seemed like the only one who could hold her own as a gangster in amongst the other fellas on screen who always seemed just a little out of place.
It’s not that there aren’t funny moments, there are, it’s just that they’re few and far between and I could never quite get over the sense that the humour seemed somewhat artificial and stilted. I think that’s what the biggest problem was for me; I was very conscious throughout the film that these were all actors playing gangsters rather than actually embodying three dimensional bad guys with real and authoritarian presence. I didn’t find any of them remotely intimidating or really buy any of them as mobsters; the threats and skullduggery were somehow very juvenile and half-assed.
Guy Ritchie is by no means a bad director, but I think he missed the mark here. The pacing was all over the place and it’s extraordinary how a movie with so many guns and fist fights could drag for as long as it did. There are definitely moments of enjoyment in “The Gentlemen”, it’s just that there wasn’t a whole lot to bridge the parts in between. I could understand what Ritchie was going for here; there’s absolutely a place for sheer, flashy entertainment, but for me, this wasn’t it.
By Jock Lehman