The Gentlemen -B
Rated R, 113 minutes
The charming British ensemble crime flick "The Gentlemen" is a bloody good time from director Guy Ritchie, whose specialty is charming British ensemble crime flicks. While hardly surprising (it's essentially a pot-themed "Snatch") and occasionally talky, it's Ritchie's
best film in years, even better than the mediocre "Aladdin"
and "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."
Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is an American expatriate who became rich by building a marijuana empire in London with his wife Rosalind ("Downton Abbey's" Michelle Dockery, underused here in a sea of testosterone) and trusted assistant Raymond ("Sons of Anarchy's" Charlie Hunnnam, making us forget Ritchie's dreadful "King Arthur"). When word gets out that he's looking to cash out of the business, it soon triggers an array of plots and schemes from those who want his fortune, including gangster Dry Eye (Henry Golding), shady billionaire Matthew (Jeremy Strong) and slimy businessman Fletcher (Hugh Grant).
"The Gentlemen" is an enjoyable look at men behaving badly, acting anything like a true gentlemen. That is the true charm of Ritchie's predictable but entertaining crime caper, filled with some fun, twisty moments from its all-star cast, with the appealing-as-ever McConaughey leading the way in a smart turn as a marijuana boss, assisted by the handsome Hunnam, with some scenes stolen by the clever Grant and Colin Farrell, who delivers one of his funniest turns as a Coach-turned-henchman.
The film shows both his strengths and weaknesses: Ritchie is adept at crafting an original, enjoyable crime piece; however, his self-aware, flashy style, while ingratiating, can be occasionally annoying. Like Tarantino, Ritchie loves to hear his own dialogue, not to mention Grant's unnecessary narration can be overbearing. After a slow, talky start, he keeps "The Gentlemen" moving with a more energetic pace through the second and third acts with some nice twists and turns as it comes to an unsurprising conclusion.
The winning, stylish "The Gentlemen" is clever, funny and yes, violent, but it's worth a look to have McConaughey back in fine form and Ritchie deliver one of his solid British crime tales.