Guy Ritchie is a director who is usually hit or miss when it comes to critical success. One of his first efforts, “Snatch,” has become a cult classic of sorts, while his most recent film retelling the story of King Arthur was ultimately a commercial and critical flop. With “The Gentlemen,” Ritchie returns to the crime drama with an outstanding cast backing him and a meta script that surprisingly works. My expectations for “The Gentlemen” were very low. A January release paired with what seemed to be a strange hybrid between the gangster genre and the recent “Kingsman” films didn’t exactly peek my interest. But, after finally seeing the film, I can say that it is a blast from beginning to end. It isn’t a clean journey, but it is relentlessly entertaining throughout and ends on a high note.
The cast is perfect on all fronts. Matthew McConaughey, Henry Golding, Charlie Hunham and Michelle Dockery all provide fun and witty performances, but the real stars here are Hugh Grant and Colin Farrell. The two give each of their characters unique ticks that could be strange or may not work in the hands of lesser actors. Ritchie’s script excels in giving every performer on screen a hefty amount of material to work with, making “The Gentlemen” a rare ensemble film that gives every actor more than a few scenes to truly shine.
Above all else, the film is a blast. Sure, there is quite a lot that doesn’t work. The first act doesn’t get to the story fast enough and suffers with pacing, and far too many characters are introduced back to back for the viewer to care about all of them. However, the actors on screen are giving such zany performances and the story is somewhat interesting enough to keep you engaged, that you can’t help but have a great time. The dialogue is fast, smart and full of laughs making every scene a blast. The action scenes are also expertly helmed with quick editing and powerful shot composition. I honestly didn’t expect this kind of craft from Ritchie so late in his career after his past few duds.
Is “The Gentlemen” perfect? Not at all. The first act as I mention drags a lot and doesn’t set up a tangible storyline. The film feels very back heavy with a lot of the information and twists revealed at the very end. A lot of the twists work in the moment, but in hindsight, most of them could have been spread throughout the narrative or removed entirely. Also, at just over 110 minutes without much story, “The Gentlemen” feels a little too long. But, I can’t deny the fact that I had a great time watching it. The performances and action were fun enough to keep me laughing and engaged throughout its runtime. I would definitely recommend that you check out “The Gentlemen” if the gangster comedy is your cup of tea.