Associate Opinion Editor
“The Gentlemen,” directed by Guy Ritchie, released on January 24, 2019. With the recent trend of European crime stories, I enjoyed “The Gentlemen” for its well paced story telling, along with an intriguing cast of characters.
The film revolves around Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), a ruthless gangster leading the underground distribution of marijuana in London, England. When rivals and allies hear of Pearson’s desires to pull out of crime, deceit and sabotage arise, with Pearson left to prove why he is the “king of the jungle.” In addition, the story is being retold by investigator, Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who wishes to sell the events as a script. With the recent trend of the “unreliable narrator,” I enjoy that the film often has moments where the audience must interpret how the scene really occurred.
As the main “protagonist,” McConaughey performs well as a serious crime boss, especially in scenes where he’s displayed at his most fearsome; yet, Charlie Hunnan as Ray arguably carries the film, both in narrative and performance. Hunnan is masterful with delivery, intimidating in his cold nature, all while improving the most memorable scenes in the film. I felt myself more interested in Ray than Pearson, especially with Ray’s backstory being nearly nonexistent.
Other highlights include Coach (Colin Ferrel) and Fletcher (Hugh Grant), providing more eccentric performances, contrasting Hunnan and McConaughey’s stoic characterizations.
I enjoyed how Ritchie gradually built tension and tied in characters overtime. At first, I was nervous with the constant branching and jumping to different characters, believing the plot would become convoluted. As the film progressed, however, the relation between characters and events felt much more natural. This especially made the plot twists and climatic scenes towards the end feel more satisfying, providing a proper conclusion to an extensive tale. In other words, the movie definitely becomes more enthralling in the latter half of its runtime.
Initially, I found the constant callbacks to film from Grant a bit obnoxious, especially with some particularly hokey visual gags in the opening. Despite these distracting flaws, I still enjoy the aforementioned “unreliable narrator” format; not only did it give some fantastic dialogue between Grant and Connan, but also allowed for an intriguing method of exposition.
The exposition was also fortunately non-excessive, as Ritchie did a superb job varying the retelling of certain events. One particular event which stuck out in my mind is when crucial dialogue is found through lip reading technology, which also leads to some very humorous jokes.
Speaking of jokes, many of the humorous moments hit well. While some of the humor involved low brow swearing, other moments included highly entertaining improve-esq character interactions.
Despite being an action movie, I enjoyed the level of groundedness to the violence. While I may certainly indulge in immoderately violent cinema, lessened violence adds plausibility to the story. In addition, when there was violence, the impact became much greater, along with being relevant to advancing the plot. Other aspects adding to realism include the language and accents of the characters, along with authentic European set building.
Overall, I give “The Gentlemen” a 7.8 out of 10. I feel Ritchie and other created a strong movie, while not mesmerizing me and/or including any revolutionary concepts. The film still can provide for everyone, from action lovers to crime story enthusiast. I would recommend clearing two hours for this solid crime film.