So here’s me trying to convince my friend to come see The Gentlemen with me. I send him the trailer link accompanied by this message, “I love this director but I honestly, I can’t understand too much of the plot.”
Friend writes back. “Oh wow, that IS my type of movie.” Then, “And I also don’t get the plot.”
Now normally, not getting the trailer means that I write off the movie too. I know. Bad practice for a reviewer, really. I’m working on that. But in this case, it’s GUY RITCHIE. If we know anything from his past endeavours (Sherlock Holmes, Snatch, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) it’s that you can trust him. It might feel like a crazily-engineered carnival ride at the start, but when it comes to land, you’ll want to go again.
The Gentlemen explodes on screen like a Wild Turkey ad on steroids. Mickey Pearson, played by none other than Matthew McConaughey, walks into a bar. Wood tones, a guy pouring drinks, Pearson sipping a glass of amber-hued liquid. It’s all very manly. Following that, we’re introduced to a curious collection of people. The kind of people we’re used to seeing in rom-coms and the like. Here, they’re almost unrecognisable and the most remarkable of these is Hugh Grant’s character. Grant abandons his puppy-dog expression for the smarmy Ray-Ban-wearing weasel of a man, Fletcher. The transformation is quite significant and all kudos to Grant for pulling this one off. Fletcher’s a wheeler and dealer and oozes such dirty underhandedness that it was really hard to see this Hugh Grant being the same person who was cast in -say- Notting Hill.
It was also fun seeing Michelle Dockery in a different light. Dockery puts that Resting Bitch Face that Downton Abbey fans are so familiar with to good use. Here though, she also sports a Cockney accent and teetering stiletto heels. Despite being Matthew McConaughey’s arm candy, she still holds her own as a smart, confident woman, capable of withering looks that can destroy a person with one glance. And honestly, in a movie about…well…gentlemen, her few appearances on screen are like a breath of fresh air.
But what, I hear you say, is this movie about? Well, that’s a good question. Because, for Guy Ritchie, convoluted storytelling is his thing. The best I can say is that it’s a game of underground politics. As Fletcher says, it’s about finding the “heroes and zeroes” and what men will do to get what they want. It kind of feels like Guy Ritchie had all this pent-up energy from directing Aladdin and threw it at The Gentlemen. I can imagine him saying, “Right! Enough of this princess stuff! Let’s throw some dirt around! Criminals! Guns! Drugs! I’m out for blood!”
And he does seem to push the boundary in a way I’m not sure I’ve seen him push before. There are a few moments of close distastefulness where I found myself thinking, “I hope he doesn’t go there”. If this were indeed a carnival ride, that would have been the point where I’d have been wondering if I was going to hurl.
But fortunately, it doesn’t go all the way, and I’m thankful. What I’m left with is the overwhelming feeling that Guy has done it again. He’s made a movie with no boring bits. There are no forgettable moments and no time to contemplate potential plot holes. In fact, I’m tempted to say forget about the popcorn and ice cream. Because you won’t be able to consume them with your mouth hanging open. The Gentlemen is saturated with more fun than should be allowed in one movie.