A US born, British drug lord wants to sell his Marijuana empire so he can retire with his wife. When the robbery of one of his plantations lowers the value of his business deal, criminal endeavors and favors start to get out of hand. Add in a sneaky, blackmailing private investigator who will play all sides to make his money and things start to get violent and messy very quickly. With lively dialogue, strong performances and quirky criminal plot, The Gentlemen once again shows that writer / director Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and RocknRolla) is a master of this genre.
Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is an American born, British drug baron who’s found a unique way to build a thriving marijuana empire in the limited and controlled land space of the United Kingdom. He’s also ready to sell his empire along with all the trade secrets to American billionaire Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong) for a hefty sum of money so he can retire and enjoy his later years with his wife Jackie (Lyne Renee). However, a few unexpected obstacles threaten to jeopardize what should be a very simple transaction.
Firstly, there’s Fletcher (Hugh Grant) – the private investigator. Hired by Big Dave (Eddie Marsan), editor of the Daily Print, Fletcher has lots of recorded information on the illegal activities of Mickey Pearsan. Before he hands over the incriminating goods to the editor of the Daily Print (who’s mad at Mickey for snubbing him at a black tie event), Fletcher decides he can make a bigger payday if he simply blackmails the marijuana mogul by approaching Mickey’s right hand man Ray (Charlie Hunnam) with his terms.
Secondly, there’s Dry Eye (Henry Golding) – an underboss for Lord George (Tom Wu), a Chinese gangster. Dry Eye is young, ambitious and reckless with a goal of rising high in the ranks of the criminal underworld. After making a bid for Mickey’s empire and being impolitely rejected, he decides to take action to get what he wants – no matter the cost.
Thirdly, there’s the American billionaire buyer himself, Matthew Berger. While he may seem like a soft, unassuming, little rich guy, he’s still very much a criminal who got where he is by doing unscrupulous things. While he may not directly get his hands dirty, he has the financial power to have others do his underhanded deeds for him. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.
And if that wasn’t enough to put a spanner in the works, there’s Mickey himself who manages to complicate things for his business deal. In order to maintain relationships with many of Britain’s elite, he goes out of his way to assist them with personal matters. By getting involved with the personal problems of the rich and powerful upper class of Britain, the fallout of his assistance leads to further complications that have dire consequences. With all these moving parts working against the business deal, it’s going to take some serious street smarts to get out of this alive.
If you’ve ever seen Guy Ritchie’s other gangster films then you’ll know there’s a particular style and acting flair that comes with his witty screenplays. With a strong cast, The Gentlemen is no different with great performances aided by strong direction and great, snappy dialogue. While all the leads and support cast do this film proud there is one stand-out performance that really impressed me – and that was Hugh Grant.
I’ve always been a fan of Hugh Grant, but not because I thought he was a good actor. I like him because he’s intrinsically likable and he’s been in several good movies. Just like George Clooney and Tom Cruise are essentially the same in every movie, so is Hugh Grant. Until The Gentlemen, that is.
This film shows Hugh Grant has serious acting chops. He’s simply amazing to watch and, to be honest, he’s not really doing that much when compared to his co-stars. Most of his screen time consists of his blackmailing conversation with Ray, which is essentially him narrating a good percentage of the film. But I could have watched him narrate the whole film. He’s funny, shrewd and an overall terrible person who dominated every scene he was in.
Guy Richie is the master of British gangster, action-comedy and The Gentleman is yet another example of how much he excels at this style of film. He expertly delivers a balance of comedy and violence while still telling an engaging story. The dialogue manages to be witty, sophisticated and underworld all at the same time without being too over the top or drawn out – Quentin Tarantino could learn a thing or two here. Throw in all the moving parts that cohesively come together nicely at the end and you end up with a solid movie that manages to make us like characters who are essentially terrible people. It’s not an easy thing to make the audience root for bad characters who are still bad people at the end but Ritchie has done just that here.
A smart blend of the rough (be prepared for the abundant use of the C-word) and the refined that results in a cinematic experience unlike other crime movies, Guy Ritchie isn’t outside his comfort zone with The Gentlemen and I’m fine with that. With fantastic dialogue, great performances from a great cast – especially from Hugh Grant – and filmed around the wonderful city of London, The Gentlemen is an entertaining movie that almost makes up for that disappointing Aladdin remake.