Guy Ritchie’s return to pitting London gangsters against each other boasts an impressive cast weaving a web of deceit, but The Gentlemen is more of a reheating of the writer/director’s past successes than a retro romp. Matthew McConaughey takes centre stage as Mickey Pearson, a weed-dealing druglord who wants to sell off his farms for millions to camp cannabis kingpin Mathew (Jeremy Strong). His simple ‘out’ of the seedy dealing business is not made easy, however, and Ritchie tells the story via a conversation between a nefarious reporter Fletcher (Hugh Grant) and Mickey’s right-hand-man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam), with the former trying to get a tidy sum paid to stay quiet over the details he’d be happy to leak to a tabloid.
More of a reheating of the writer/director’s past successes than a retro romp.
There’s plenty of ‘effing and blinding as a variety of dubious personalities enter the frame to threaten Mickey and his gang, including his wife, which amounts to a lot of grimacing, gun handling and a few violent bruisings, but this is all things we’ve seen before in Lock Stock, Snatch and RocknRolla (let’s forget about Revolver, as Ritchie seems to have learnt to avoid the pitfalls of the story-telling tricks which caused chaos with that philosophical mess). The Gentlemen is fun when the screen is left to Grant to sleaze it up as he relays his story to Raymond, with, as some commentators have highlighted, a nod to his own very public issues with reporters of Fletcher’s type.
Colin Farrell also has a blast as the gym-running, fast-talking Coach who needs to step in when some of his young tracksuit-wearing apprentices get embroilled in a plot to devalue Mickey’s cannabis farms - think a more confident, townie version of his would-be assassin Ray from In Bruges. McConaughey, though, is dealt a rather dull central character in Mickey, only requiring a minimum of acting cool from the actor which he almost sleepwalks through. Hunnam has some nice comic moments too. Yet the overriding feeling is one of going-through-the-motions as the film gets bogged down in flashback-upon-flashback and a feeling of peril doesn’t hit until the final 20 minutes when an ending is hurriedly hunted down among all the twists.