In his early days, director Guy Ritchie was the king of the cult crime comedy - from 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' to 'Snatch', the man was beloved by niche film groups around the world. Then came 'Sherlock Holmes' and its sequel, both banking over US$500 million worldwide, making Ritchie a big mainstream director. He followed up with 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.', which I loved but bombed massively at the box office, followed by the god-awful 'King Arthur: Legend of the Sword'. Things were not looking good for the man - but then he took one jump ahead and went to work for the big mouse himself: Disney. 'Aladdin' grossed US$1,051 billion worldwide - that's insane! While it's his most lucrative film, it also is the film that makes him look like a big sell-out. So Ritchie is hoping to start 2020 correctly by returning to the genre that made him big in the first place with 'The Gentlemen'.
Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey, 'Dallas Buyers Club', 'Magic Mike') is the head of a huge marijuana empire in London. His right-hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam, 'The Lost City Of Z', 'Pacific Rim') is met one night by Fletcher (Hugh Grant, 'Paddington 2', 'Florence Foster Jenkins'), a flamboyant man with a secret about Pearson's business - but will only reveal it to him after recounting the events of the marijuana empire. A lot of outside interest wants in on Pearson's business, and rumours are growing that he plans to sell it.
'The Gentlemen' is a fine way to spend two hours, going back and forth between being fun and boring, but never really goes above okay. Film buffs will get a kick out of Grant's character talking about the magic of cinema and old-school film, and they do some creative things with old film reels and changing up the ratios that's fun. Colin Farrell ('Widows', 'Dumbo') is also having a lot of fun here; he runs a boxing ring of rebellious youth, and there's some really good humour there. Michelle Dockery ('Downton Abbey', 'Self/less') is also a blast here - she's McConaughey's wife, and really stands out in this male-dominated film. The rest of the cast is fine, with McConaughey ranging from sleepwalking to passable, and Hunnam continues to prove himself but needs better roles, while Henry Golding ('Crazy Rich Asians', 'A Simple Favour') is trying to be the villain but he has too much of a rom-com charm so doesn't work as well as it should.
‘The Gentlemen’ is a fine way to spend two hours, going back and forth between being fun and boring, but never really goes above okay.
The film's narrative is also pretty generic, and while the dialogue is fun, the film gets muddled fast. It's hard to keep up with who's bad and who's double-crossing who, so it's easy to lose interest, even when the actors having fun.
While 'The Gentlemen' is a big step forward from Ritchie's latest films, it's not the return to form fans may be hoping for. That said, there is still fun to be had here, and it may work better at home than a cinematic experience.