Guy Richie returns to his gangster roots with ‘The Gentlemen’, an action crime comedy with all the hallmarks of a classic gangster brit-flick; a stellar cast, an intriguing story, drugs, crime, ridiculous nicknames and an unbelievably gratuitous use of the c-bomb.
Mickey Pearson is an American drug lord who has created a marijuana empire in England. When he decides to cash in and sell his business to the highest bidder, he’ll be met by bribery, blackmail and murder as a variety of treacherous leaches try to steal his kingdom from beneath him.
The film is headlined by Matthew McConaughey as the cool American Mickey (playing *totally* against type…) and Charlie Hunnam as Raymond, Mickey’s right-hand man. Rising star Henry Golding stars as Dry Eye, a member of a rival drug empire, with Michelle Dockery as Mickey’s no-nonsense wife and Eddie Marsan as the owner of a major tabloid paper (Eddie’s dark final scene is a highlight of the film).
The stand out performances however are that of Colin Farrell as the coach of a local boxing team, and Hugh Grant starring as Fletcher, a private investigator for Mike’s tabloid paper. Hugh Grant, as well as delivering a fantastically accented performance, narrates the whole film with hilarious tone and phrasing. Naturally, the casting of Hugh Grant as a slimy tabloid reporter is hilariously self-referential – the actor was of course a key target of the phone hacking scandal throughout the noughties.
The film’s plot is a wonderfully fun barrel of twists and turns, with power plays and back-stabbing galore. Nobody can ever really be fully trusted, and though the plot seems to be thoroughly tangled two-thirds of the way through, by the end of the film all the loose ends are nicely tied up and dealt with. Of course, with Guy Richie returning to his gangster roots, he also brings some hilarious cockney phrases and one liners. The script is filled to the brim with great quotes, though almost all of them are too rude to write in a review.
The film’s score was written by Christopher Benstead who, after being a music editor and sound mixer for many years (winning the Oscar for sound mixing Gravity) has created a stunningly tight score, with dark momentum and a great use of strings, guitars and ticking sounds (the score also contains an early entry for ‘album track title of the year’: Track 14 entitled “W**king into a Hanky”). His use of intense sawing strings is reminiscent of ‘Joker’, ‘Sicario’ and ‘American Animals’, and I’m excited to see what the composer does next.
The film does sometimes become a little offensive, especially in its treatment of race and class. Though it’s at first amusing to have a Chinese gang member named “Phuc”, after a while the gag became pandering and cheap. And like I mentioned earlier, the film (like most cockney films) uses the c-bomb as a noun and adjective more than most movies would dare. As well as this, there is a decent amount of gore, death and bodies in freezers, so if that’s not your type of thing it’s best you steer clear. It’s definitely an 18 for a reason.
Despite some minor drawbacks, ‘The Gentlemen’ still remains a dizzyingly fun viewing experience. Packed with great quotes and backed by a fantastic cast, it’s Guy Richie at his strongest and most entertaining since Sherlock Holmes (2009).