The Gentlemen movie poster

The Gentlemen

In theaters January 24, 2020

Rated

,

117 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , ,

There are a lot of writers who claim to be the whole package – they write the movie, they produce the movie, they direct the movie, but until you see a movie like The Gentlemen, you don’t realize just how good that collective experience can be.

The illegal marijuana trade has been advantageous for Mickey (Matthew McConaughey), but he is looking to exit the business. He’d like to ease through middle age without the stress of the largest pot-growing and distribution business in the UK, weighing on his every thought. He’s the king of the jungle, and this lion wants to pad off with his queen into a quiet oasis. He’s looking to sell his business to fellow American, Matthew (Jeremy Strong), but one complication after another hinders the sale and threatens everything Mickey has worked tirelessly to build.

One complication is the slimy private investigator, and budding screenwriter, Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who’s relaying much of what we see and hear to Mickey’s right-hand man, Ray (Charlie Hunnam), caught unaware of the sale, during an evening at home. Fletcher is offering Ray, and by extension, Mickey, a lucrative proposition (for himself) that will save Mickey and his entire enterprise from law enforcement. The opportunity also includes offering everything the private investigator knows about Mickey, up to and including the screenplay he’s been shopping: “Bush” (slang for pot, not body parts). The Gentlemen is part recollection and part Fletcher’s creative license as he spins a yarn of Mickey’s inevitable demise in Act 3 if he doesn’t get his 20M. Fletcher knows Mickey is getting double-crossed. The question is, is it his wife Rosalind, (Michelle Dockery), a formidable businesswoman all by herself, his right-hand Ray, or is it his upstart rival in the drug trade, Dry Eye (Henry Golding)?

The Gentlemen is very clever and Guy Ritchie-snappy. Clocking in at under 2 hours, it doesn’t spend a lot of time waxing poetic about character motivations – they’re drug dealers and businessmen, and you don’t need them to talk about how rich and conniving they are because Guy Ritchie is happy to show you. It’s delightfully British, which means the gunplay (a staple in American drug films) is cleverly reduced to a minimum. When the bad guys can’t shoot their way out of a situation, everyone has to get creative. I wish I could see more of that. I especially enjoyed the entourage of Coach (Colin Farrell) and his cadre of disadvantaged gym rats he’s training to be smart, self-sufficient boxers (while they cultivate their hip-hop career). I liked the tracksuits, myself. Garish yet stylish.

Unlike most action movies, you don’t feel dumber for having seen The Gentlemen. It feels human, which is a hard sell for an over the top gangster movie, but realist mistakes get made, reactions feel genuine, and not one bit of it feels out of bounds. The whip-smart cuts and action, and blasé dialog make you feel as if you’re being carried along in this fantastical story as it unfolds, creative license and all. Can you predict the ending? I wouldn’t think so, and I certainly tried. Frankly, it’s just too much fun to waste the effort.

If you’re looking for adult fun that doesn’t feel dumbed down with inane action or dopey laughs, I think you could do a lot worse. The Gentlemen is a return to excellent form for Guy Ritchie.

The Gentleman is rated R for swears, people getting shot, people getting drugged, people getting poisoned, vomit, cold storage, people smoking dope, and people murdered by gravity.

Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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