After venturing into the world of family-friendly films with the live-action Aladdin in 2019, Guy Ritchie returns to more familiar territory with The Gentlemen. Here, we get to see some of what made him a relevant filmmaker. I think some may love what Ritchie is bringing with this type of film. On the other hand, some may feel like I do and believe that there’s an even better movie here in spite of being able to appreciate much of what’s actually included.
The story in The Gentlemen follows Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), an American who was able to build a highly profitable marijuana empire in London. When rumors start floating around about his potential exit from the business, a host of figures from the criminal underworld take notice. For him, retiring would mean the potential for an easier life, but many of those around him simply see this as an opportunity to elevate their status and make some serious money.
From the very beginning, you kind of see what you’re going to get from The Gentlemen. At this point, you get that sense mostly from the characters who can be described as bright, lively, stylish, and mostly crass. These are the types of guys you’re going to want to watch and learn more about. A part of it is because you will likely find them to be engaging, but the other part is because you want to follow them through their series of misadventures.
These elements lend themselves greatly to a film that takes place in the world of crime written and directed by someone like Guy Ritchie. As you would expect, there’s plenty of style to go along with a general tone that matches very well. When you look at the fact that The Gentlemen also includes plenty of attempts at humor, I’m guessing you would also anticipate this all being brought to you at a fast pace. Unfortunately, that’s where things begin to get a little shaky.
The pacing doesn’t quite mesh with the stronger elements of the film. It’s fairly inconsistent and creates an uneven feeling overall. When thinking back on it, a lot of it probably has to do with the way it was shot. If you see it for yourself, most of what you’ll get is delivered in the form of what can be described as flashbacks. However, this isn’t done in a way that can be considered completely conventional.
Yes, we jump back and forth from past to present as you’d expect, but there’s a story being told within a story that helps us to get where we need to be. I won’t go into specifics, but the way this is done is actually kind of cool. The only problem with it is that the overall tone of the movie may have been thrown off by it a bit since the past and present run at a different pace.
The scenes in the past are quicker than most of what we get from the scenes that take place in the present. The scenes in the past are also visually brighter than the ones we usually get in the present. Specifically speaking, these issues mostly show themselves during the scenes in the present that focus squarely on the interactions between the two characters portrayed by Hugh Grant and Charlie Hunnam.
The characters these two actors play are just as engaging and personable as the rest of the people we meet, but it doesn’t feel like they exist in the same world during these specific scenes. While the world the other guys are running around in is moving and lighter, the world these two guys are usually in is darker, slower, and in one location.
Like the characters, the movie itself has personality as well. What’s done here properly allows its viewers to feel as if they’re directly connected to much of what’s going on and makes much of this feel fresh even though it’s set in a genre that we’re all familiar with. Combined with the acting, these aspects that we’re given help carry The Gentlemen even when it feels as if it’s moving slower than it should at certain points.
While I mostly liked the structure of The Gentlemen, I also think that it may have hurt the film as well. A little more work on smoothing things out and speeding things up a bit and you have a movie that’s easy to recommend to just about anyone who likes gangster movies. If you are interested, I think it’s something you should probably consider seeing anyway.
If you can stomach the uneven pacing that it deals with, The Gentlemen could be a thoroughly enjoyable film for you. On the other hand, if you’re like me, you may be able to appreciate its many positives while also wishing it had been able to accomplish more. Either way, I don’t think too many people will leave this experience regretful. Plus, when compared to the average January release, you could do much worse.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Screenwriter: Guy Ritchie
Film Length: 113 minutes
Release Date: January 24, 2020
Distributor: STX Entertainment
- Score - 6/106/10