Movie ReviewsThe Gentlemen – British To a Fault (Early Review)

Kielan EllisJanuary 23, 202050/100
Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant
Guy Ritchie
Guy Ritchie
14A (Canada), R (United States)
Running Time
113 minutes
Release Date
January 24th, 2020
Overall Score
Rating Summary
The Gentlemen, while fun and fairly engaging, looses itself in its apparent style, while truly brining nothing new to the table storytelling-wise or stylistically but is saved in moments by Hugh Grant.

The Gentlemen is the newest film from writer/director Guy Ritchie which can only mean one thing – a ton of style, for seemingly no apparent reason. Ritchie’s style, especially in has last several films, has become increasingly like that of a film student who just got After Effects and wanted to try out all the different transitions. This film, much like a mid 2000’s rom-com, is a pale, somewhat tactless attempt, that is only saved by Hugh Grant.

To begin with what The Gentlemen did get right – its campiness definitely works in a late-night watching a film with your friends kind of way, or if you’re looking for something like a Kingsman movie, but more British. It’s entertaining through out, chalk-full of bloody violence, over the top profanity and balls to the wall performances by muscular men stuffed into tiny tweed suits.

Speaking of Hunnam, he delivers a great, understated, and entertaining performance as McConaughey’s personal assistant/hired gun Ray, and pairs very well with Hugh Grant, who absolutely steals the show as Fletcher. Grant’s performance in The Gentlemen is far better than anything he’s done in recent years, and feels more genuinely performative and thought out than many of the performances that have made him famous. His performance actually calls to mind Adam Sandler in last year’s Uncut Gems, as an immediately unlikable protagonist that you can’t help but root for. Meanwhile, the costume design is also very well done, and will hopefully spark a new trend of plaid tracksuits.

However to the detriment of The Gentlemen, it makes no sense. Characters act at the whim of the story, not the other way round, and events seem to happen moments after each-other with no apparent logic or time for characters to do anything, or even travel from place to place. There is simply no spacial or temporal logic in the film. In addition, the dialogue at times is so poor it is laughable. Dramatic scenes are undercut by poor delivery of cliche and trite lines, eliciting uncomfortable laughter from everyone in the theatre.

Even the pace of The Gentlemen is poorly thought out, as the film goes from dragging before speeding up and then concluding with what could not have been more ham-fisted and cliche, down to the countless switches that eventually grow tiresome. The film is entirely self-indulgent for Ritchie, to the point (and without spoiling anything), there is a scene set in either Ritchie, or a stand-in for Ritchie’s office, with a Man From Uncle poster on the wall and all his countless Oscars (apparently) on full display on his shelf. In addition, the film treads very dangerously on the side of being playfully racist towards Asian people.

The Gentlemen certainly does not go as far as to make a caricature of an Asian person, and there is certainly a place for “bad people saying bad things” like Tarantino characters dropping the N-word, but when the film takes pauses for laughs, and seems to intend for the audience to be in on the joke, after mocking an Asian person’s name, or after the repetitive use of the word “Chinaman”,  or the mocking of a broken-English Asian accent, one must wonder what the intentions of the script are.

In the end, The Gentlemen is a sloppy attempt at a Kingsman-like balancing act between action and class. It succeeds in delivering characters who appear classy, but itself delivers a script as class-less as they come.

*still courtesy of VVS Films*

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