The Gentlemen review
For a guy that loves movies, I do have my favorite and least favorite genres. One of those least favorite genres are mob movies. It has nothing to do with the explicit content or their morals. I just don't find them as engaging as a shoot-em-up western, hilarious comedy, or a fantastical science fiction. A lot of it has to do with the overall dialogue and plot structure. They play out like soap operas where family members and friends will get on board, but then betray those around them, usually whenever it's very convenient for the story to progress forward.
That’s not to say I dislike mafia stories in general. I'll even admit that The Godfather, Scarface, The Departed, Casino, Goodfellas, and the recent The Irishman are all incredible works of art. I think it has to do with how people try to imitate mobs, only to come off boring. The key to making them work, especially for me, is the really make the characters engaging and worth caring for. In something like The Godfather, you consistently feel sorry for Al Pacino who got dragged into the family business. So let's see what The Gentlemen has to offer.
In England, an American crime boss Mickey Pearson (played by Matthew McConaughey) runs a successful drug business that he's in the process of trying to sell for $400 million dollars. All he wants is to retire with his wife Rosalind (played by Michelle Dockery). But along with overall process of hiding it, an underboss for the Chinese mafia, Dry Eye (played by Henry Golding) offers to purchase the drug business, but is rejected. At the same time, one of the hidden drug labs is vandalized and raided by amateur boxers who film their encounter and post it on social media as a part of a rap video.
This angers the boxer's coach…named Coach (played by Colin Farrell) who offers his services to Mickey's underboss Raymond. This leads Coach into capturing members of the Chinese mafia to try and intimidate them into leaving them alone. Of course, this only entices them to get more violent with their methods. On top of all this, Big Dave (played by Eddie Marsan), who's the editor of the Daily Print tabloid, hires a private investigator Fletcher (played by Hugh Grant) to dig into this criminal underworld. It just so happens that Fletcher also wants to try and make some blackmail money.
The Gentlemen certainly has a lot of characters and plots to get through. I didn't even list smaller parts. That's why I'm glad to say that I was very entertained by The Gentlemen. Director Guy Richie (Sherlock Holmes, Aladdin) tends to use a lot of plot within his stories and can be hit or miss. He seems to love making these mob movies as they can take advantage of that. Where The Gentlemen succeeds is it's characters as I found them to be interesting and balances things by showing off lower and higher class gangsters. It may not be the first, but something about it here feels distinct.
This is another movie where the casting is perfect. I can't call them deep characters, but each actor, whether it's Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant, or Henry Golding, they all do a good job bringing a balance of intimidating and funny. I would count the film as a comedy (I'm not even going to spoil what happens to Hugh Grant's character), as a lot of the humor relies on whose trying to rip off who or who their trying to impress.
Having said that, the movie can get a little too caught up in it's plots. While most I could follow, there were a lot that were either formulaic or just didn't go anywhere. An editing process probably would have helped make it tighter and focused. Plus you should know the movie does not follow a straightforward story. Because of this, you really need to pay attention to what's going on. This may turn off some people who just want to sit back and have fun. There's a lot of fun here too, though it'll help to keep tabs on whose who and what their doing.
I'll give this four tweed blazers out of five. I'd say it'll have a good life on video and on the streaming platforms. If this sounds good, then I expect you'll enjoy this. It's teatime and The Gentlemen brings the mafia with it.