Films can be great in a variety of ways: there are films we widely regard as cinematic masterpieces; there are films that stay with you long after the credits roll; there are films so daring that they change the rules of filmmaking; then there are films that are fantastic simply because they’re complete and utter fun.
It may not be a highbrow work of art, but Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen is 113 minutes of hilarious, explosive, stylish entertainment. After a string of broadly Hollywoodian, big-budget films (live-action Aladdin, anyone?), Ritchie goes back to his roots with this London-set crime caper.
Matthew McConaughey stars as American expat Mickey Pearson, a marijuana kingpin who built a national empire across the UK. When word gets out that he is looking to sell his business and get out of the game, ambitious newcomer Dry Eye (a totally out-of-typecast Henry Golding) sees an opening for a hostile takeover.
And so ensues an all-out turf war, complete with underhand deals and blackmail, as well as some straightforward gun-shooting. “There’s only one rule in this jungle,” warns McConaughey. “When the lion’s hungry, he eats!” Such a scene perfectly illustrates the ridiculously over-the-top charm of this gangster comedy.
The Gentlemen is vintage Ritchie, embracing a signature blend of quick-fire dialogue, bold yet polished editing and flawlessly choreographed chaos. The star-studded cast plays no small role in what makes this film so engrossing. Let us paint a picture without giving too much away: Hugh Grant is a wily Cockney whose every other sentence is a sexual inuendo; Charlie Hunnam is Mickey’s well-dressed, bespectacled righthand man, who also has no problem going ape-shit with a machine gun; Succession’s Jeremy Strong is an ultrarich, camp(-er?) Jeff Goldblum; Colin Farrell is basically what you’d imagine Colin Farrell to be like on his day off; Michelle Dockery is Mickey’s badass wife; and McConaughey is his alright-alright-alright self but with a harder edge.
Every member of the cast looks to be having so much fun, that you can’t help but be swept up in the delirious escapism of it all. The Gentlemen is all seductive swagger, irreverent quips and effortless style. Go in ready to have a great time, and you will not be disappointed. It’s a riot.
The Gentlemen releases January 1st.