- Gareth Crook
The Gentlemen (2019)
Matthew Mahogany walks into a boozer and orders a pint and a pickled egg, then takes a bullet. This is a GUY RICHIE film, there will be no subtlety. To prove this point, he’s dressed up that most toffy of toffs Hugh Grant as a foul mouthed flowery east end gangster ‘Fletcher’... and you know what, I think I quite like it. Now that flowery bit. It’s not gritty you see. We’ve traded the cast of Lockstock & Snatch for, well for Gentlemen. Fletcher is telling an exposition filled story. A literal scene setter. McConaughey is Micheal Pearson, a sharp yet ruthless American, flogging Grade A weed, who’s looking to sell his profitable business to Matthew (Jeremy Strong), but he’s pissed off Big Dave (the always marvellous Eddie Marsden) a tabloid newspaper piece of shit editor, who employ’s Fletcher for some dirt digging. Fletcher then decides to double cross and sell the info to Ray (Charlie Hunnam), Pearson’s underling. Richie is not a smart director. He plays to a formula. Take a story with a load of surface level characters, chop it up a little, spin the pieces around and tie some thread between them. Then spit it out as fast as you dare. I’m not sure where he’s been these last few years, I lost interest after Snatch, but it’s hard to miss the sign posts indicating the new Guy Richie world. Here we have tweed sporting wannabe bad boys driving range rovers around country pile’s, complaining about ramblers and making enemies of the tabloids. Anyway, when MaConaughey isn’t playing the fat cat drugs baron and Grant isn’t narrating, it’s a cast of largely forgettable players posturing over who’s gonna take on Pearson’s empire. That is until ‘The Coach’ makes an appearance. This is Colin Farrell in more fake Burberry than is decent. He’s a local boxing promoter, in charge of a bunch of ring monkeys in matching tracksuits that make them look like chav power rangers. These YouTube loving numpties knock off one of Pearson’s weed bunkers, then post the punch up mash up online. Not smart. Not planned either. Ooo or is it. Well of course it bloody is. The dialogue is comical, the cameras quick. It’s not as clever as it’s clearly trying to be, but then it’s definition of clever is pretty low. It’s passable. It’s not great, but it’s enjoyable enough. The narrative twists, cuts and glues together pretty much as expected, but take nothing away from Richie, he’s good at this. We get the usual dead ends and blind alleys, but it’s clear where it’s headed. Now as hamfisted as Fletcher’s narrative role is, he’s by far and away the best thing about this. Take Grant out and this is nothing more than a derivative time killer. Okay okay, it’s not much more than that with Grant in it, but he does steal the show and he’s great to watch. Farrell is okay too, but even with these larger than life characters, the story is a bit meh. 20 years ago this might’ve seemed exciting, but it’s very dated now. Richie clearly still fancies himself, putting posters of his own films on the walls of this, but the self referential shit just makes me want to scream fuck off. So that’s what I’ll do and pray that the threatened sequel doesn’t transpire. When the best thing about your film is Hugh Grant, it’s time to start asking yourself some serious questions.