Guy Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen”, with a adishonour-amongst-thieves plot’, is an action comedy that’s talk heavy, and has a seedy, anachronistic feel, more like a throwback to the films of the 1990s.
Featuring a stellar ensemble cast headed by Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery and Colin Farrell, Ritchie’s oeuvre is a fairly familiar affair that has traits of Quentin Tarantino fare. In fact, one sequence featuring a mobster locked in a car trunk, feels like a direct Tarantino homage.
The narrative pivots around private investigator and would-be screenwriter Fletcher (Hugh Grant) telling big-time mob enforcer Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) a story for a film, at his swanky London home.
The explosive tale concerns Raymond’s boss, Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), a suavely ruthless US expat and marijuana tycoon, who plans to sell his business to American billionaire Matthew Berger for a cool 400 million pounds so that he can retire with his wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery) and join the ranks of the gentry.
In the oddly circuitous way of unspooling, Raymond becomes noticeably impatient listening to Fletcher, who claims he is “laying pipe”, Hollywood parlance that means setting the stage. Fletcher’s elaborate recitation is to provide Raymond with evidence as to why he deserves 20 million in exchange for silence. The plot packed with rivals soon start circling, creating a complicated web of crossing and double-crossing, which includes bribery, blackmail and murder.
The plot is a bit complex and thus the film initially appears convoluted. After you survive the tedious first act and the jig-saw puzzle falls into place, you enjoy the telling. It is refreshingly funny and deftly plotted, with more witty lines and less boorish machismo than Tarantino’s works. Violence, here plays a key role, but mostly occurs off-screen or limited on-screen and the body count is surprisingly low.
The characters are mostly stereotypes than actual people, which makes it hard to care about or to root for. Matthew McConaughey exudes absolutely zero charisma on screen as Mickey Pearson especially while justifying his illegalbusiness by indicating that weed doesn’t kill anyone or when he purrs: “If you wish to be the King of the jungle, it’s not enough to act like the kind, you must be the King.”
Likewise, Hugh Grant serving as both the smug raconteur and the antagonist at the same time, is bland, he comes off as an old ham.
Michelle Dockery and British-Malaysian actor Henry Golding in supporting roles are completely wasted. They both appear to have been cast only for their looks.
The only valuable performances are by Charlie Hunnam and Colin Farrell. Hunnam as the impassive lackey figure Raymond, executes much of the action, which he does with slightly mournful charm while his more flavourful superiors recede into the background. Similarly, Colin Farrell is amusing and a delight, playing the cunning and lippy coach mentoring a coterie of young thugs.
With slick production values, the film is stylishly mounted and overall, it is an ambitious yet effortlessly entertaining caper.
-IANS, TROY RIBEIRO
Film: “The Gentlemen”; Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Hug Grant, Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan; Direction: Guy Ritchie