THE MOVIE GUY — Director Guy Ritchie returns to London’s underworld in The Gentlemen

Published 12:06 am Friday, January 24, 2020

Guy Ritchie began his career by directing a series of in-your-face British gangster films, most notably the 1998 crime drama Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He has recently moved on to more mainstream fare, such as the Sherlock Holmes franchise and last year’s Aladdin movie starring none other than Will Smith.

His diehard fans bemoaned this gentile career pivot, pining for the edgier style that was Ritchie’s early hallmark. Those fans should be very happy to see the bad boy director returning to form, somewhat, with his latest film that once again plunges audiences into the colorful London underworld.

The Gentlemen is a crime caper that stars Matthew McConaughey as an American pot distributor who’s been living in England. When he decides to retire, all sorts of unsavory characters begin salivating over the opportunity to take over his business.

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These characters are the main appeal of this movie. Ritchie had no problem attracting an A-List cast, and these seasoned actors save this movie. Quite frankly, the story doesn’t ever go anywhere, but the menagerie of interesting characters makes this into an interesting journey, despite the plot problems.

Leading the charge is McConaughey, who is obviously having a ball. His enthusiasm for his drug dealing character is infectious. Hugh Grant is also having a blast playing a slimy private eye. For my money, Colin Farrell scores the most points, playing a blue-collar boxing coach. He’s so charismatic in this film that you almost hope that his character will get a spin off movie one day.

The rest of the cast is solid, although there are a few lazy cultural stereotypes that might trouble some audiences. More problematic, at least for Ritchie’s fans, is that many of the major characters are now portrayed as being slimy fat cats instead of the brutish personalities that populated the director’s earlier work. These are still interesting anti-heroes, but they don’t have the same dynamic appeal that we might have hoped to see.

No worries on the content, as the film still features plenty of gleefully naughty bits and the dialogue is absolutely brilliant. I could listen to these lowlife Brits colorfully swearing all day long. The King’s English has never sounded so good — just don’t take your mother to see this film.

The Gentlemen is delightfully naughty and with its superb cast, many of whom play against their career types, you have a film that is a lot of fun. Ritchie’s fanatic fan base won’t be satisfied, but general audiences should appreciate the director’s return to form, even if he’s not quite the brash auteur anymore.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at