The Gentlemen (2020): A Great Guy Ritchie Crime Thriller

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    “The Gentlemen” is Guy Ritchie’s return to classic form as seen in his film “Snatched,” “Locked, Stocked and Two Smoking Barrels” and others. This is a crime thriller where there aren’t any good people. The action is kinetic, the soundtrack is amazing and besides pacing issues I was enthralled in how the reveals would all pan out in the end. If you are in for a good thriller or have enjoyed Ritchie’s older work I’ll recommend now before I get into spoilers.

The film was directed and written by Guy Ritchie.

The story follows Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) as he attempts to sell his drug company while forces vie against him.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Soundtrack – The opening song “Cumberland Gap” is pure gold and the rap and instrumentals littered through the film kept me enthralled as the betrayals unfolded. Ritchie clearly knows who to choose for his soundtracks. Christopher Benstead did a fantastic job.

The Action – The last 2 films I saw with great action were “Birds of Prey” and “Come to Daddy.” This film beats them both. Ritchie has been doing action for longer and this pays off in how he frames action scenes. You are left with suspense and consequences throughout the entire film. Even if it is a character telling a story, you know that there will be action consequences within the story and after. Ritchie did not disappoint.

The Main Characters – This film has no moral characters but damn if they aren’t compelling. The four most fleshed out characters are Mickey, Raymond, Coach and Fletcher who I will go into below. The minor characters are still compelling though. You can see why others are working with these characters in different ways and you should really watch the film for those minor characters, even if they don’t drive the narrative.

Mickey – Mickey is the main driver of the narrative as Coach is pulled into his orbit after his student’s steal from him, Raymond is his bodyguard and Fletcher is trying to blackmail him. He begins as a man wanting to retire and sell his Empire and ends with holding onto his Empire, making a profit and getting rid of the competition. Part of me wonders if this wasn’t the point all along as it is hard to know just how genuine the character is given he is proven to be ruthless very early on in his life. His story is still very compelling though. McConaughey plays the crime lord very well.

Raymond – Raymond is Mickey’s accountant and muscle and is very good at his job. As the fixer is being blackmailed by Fletcher at the beginning of the film and we see how all the dirt was gotten on him and Mickey and the first place, before the final reveal of just how in control the character is. Hunnam gives vulnerability to the character while still showing why he is trusted in the role he is in.

Coach – Colin Farrell’s coach is a character who it is implied was once in the criminal underworld but now works as a fighting coach to help others have a new start too. After a few of the people he is helping still from Mickey he finds himself roped in and working for Mickey. In the end he is able to even the score with with Raymond owing him as Coach is one of the more moral characters we meet in the entire film.

Fletcher – Fletcher is trying to blackmail Mickey with all the dirt he gets on him over the course of the film. Hugh Grant plays this playful, slimey character very well. He is passionate about film and we see him pushing Raymond’s button in his home as often as he can. Grant would have made a great Jack Sparrow honestly after seeing him in this role. In the end Raymond captures him after he attempts to sell the premise of this film to Miramax, to give us some meta. He is also the character narrating what has happened for the majority of the film.

Set-up – The set-up has Mickey getting shot in a cafe and Fletcher blackmailing Raymond for money from Mickey’s organization. It is immediately promising as we have a lot of questions to be answered and the stakes start out high.

The Reveals – Like any classic Guy Ritchie films we get a bunch of double crosses. Dry Eye, one of the antagonists kills his boss, Fletcher is betraying whomever is convenient at the time and the reveal of Mickey figuring out how deep all the betrayals go is revealed at the very end. It is extremely well done and I’m not going to spoil it here.

The Cons:

The Pacing – The film is nearly 2 hours long and before we get to the climax there are a few moments it feels that way. It pays off in the end due to the reveals but I think the film would have been stronger with better use of those reveals, which in turn would have saved time.

Rosalind and Victimization – Rosalind is nearly raped by Dry Eyes who is Mickey’s rival. She kills his goons but is only in the film as a something to be protected. This was awful especially since the only other woman in the film is a heroin addict who dies from an overdose to further victimize Mickey. We spend so much time with Raymond and nothing happens to him. Given how much of a role he plays in the narrative why couldn’t he have been victimized to up the stakes?

Even with the very obvious flaws this is the best film I’ve seen so far in this very strange 2020 with the world under quarantine. If you are a fan of classic Guy Ritchie you will no doubt enjoy this film and if you enjoy a good thriller I think you will too. The flaws, are blatant but the overall strength of the narrative boosts the film to a greater degree. With all the big budget projects Ritchie has been up to it is nice to see a return to his cinematic roots.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10 Easily the best film I’ve watched thus far in 2020.

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