The Gentlemen (2020)

The Gentlemen poster.jpgDirector: Guy Ritchie
Running Time: 113 Minutes
Rating: 18
Starring: Matthew McConnaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan, Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant, Chidi Ajufo, Jason Wong, Brittany Ashworth

Having become synonymous with the British gangster film, Guy Ritchie has recently tried branching out into other genres, while staying true to his roots. In terms of adapting literary figures, successful results were yielded with Sherlock Holmes, but the less said about King Arthur: Legend of The Sword, the better. After a stint directing Aladdin, the director's biggest film yet, Ritche made a return to the genre he built his career on. But if you fancy watching one of the director's British gangster films, you'd be better served sticking to his early works.

Having built an empire in London out of selling Marijuana, American expat Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is looking to cash out of the business. Once word gets out, attempts are made to steal his domain out from under him. Utilising a familiar plot, what Ritchie has crafted is clearly fun for the assembled cast. They're game for whatever comes their way, and are certainly having a ball, dropping as many C bombs as their vocabulary can possibly attempt. The best example is Colin Farrell, primed to steal scenes in his tracksuit, lighting up the screen whenever he walks onto it.

But despite clearly relishing their roles, what surrounds the cast is a mess. It's clear that Ritchie wants to harken back to what he started his career with, and return to simpler times when he wasn't neck-deep in franchises. This could've been the perfect back to basics tale, but it's hindered by unnecessary subplots populating the film, and being needlessly convoluted. A trip to a council estate holds little impact upon the plot, while a framing device seems to exist to showcase how much of a cinephile Ritchie is. There's a tightly focused and straightforward version of this film lying within, but it's nestled within an inordinate amount of unneeded material.

For all of the time spent on the male figures, the one female character that's prominent is left pretty under-served. Michelle Dockery plays Rosalind, a character we're told is the Cleopatra to Mickey's Mark Antony, and supposedly more than just his wife. Unfortunately, such a key character and vital relationship are left by the wayside, and wasted for no good reason. Considering how she acts as confidant to our lead, and helps to run his business, this feels like an unnecessary oversight.

But what's most troubling is how the Asian characters are handled. Fronted by Henry Golding, these talented actors are made the butt of stereotypical gags which felt outdated in the 90s. It feels even more bizarre when the film suddenly grinds to a halt, in order to explain why something said isn't actually racist, despite a character protesting it is. Ritchie could have returned to this genre a man grown by his experiences, but this regressive note leaves a bad taste in the mouth.