Saturday, June 20, 2020

Movie Reviews: The Gentlemen

The Gentlemen
directed by Guy Ritchie
Guy Ritchie is a predictable writer and director, particularly when he's examining the milieu in which he made his name, the British underworld. Depending on how much you enjoy this style you might consider this film a welcome return to form. 

Or you might decide that fast paced tough guy/tough gal banter, sudden ultraviolence, music video style quick cuts, British slang, double crosses hidden inside triple crosses, and racial/ethnic/sexual slurs played for jokes is overdone and last year's/last century's news. I generally enjoyed this movie but I have a tolerance for some of these otherwise problematic things in movies if I don't think they're coming from a place of contempt or hatred. 

Presumably Ritchie and/or the other writers would say they're making fun of everyone. I'm not so sure about that, watching it a second time. Still, this is light entertainment, not anything award winning or something that is supposed to make anyone think too much. 

Michael "Mickey" Pierson (Matthew McConaughey) is an American former Rhodes Scholar, who upon arriving in Merry Olde England, soon discovered that he could make more money and meet a higher class of people by selling marijuana than by hitting the books. Fast forward about twenty five years and the middle aged but still trim Mickey has become a multimillionaire marijuana producer and distributor. He has avoided heroin and cocaine because of their associations with violence and because he thinks those drugs are too addictive. Mickey is a nice guy. 

That is Mickey is a nice guy as long as you do not steal from him and do not disrespect or otherwise annoy his ice queen sexy wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery), who is not only his partner and chief advisor, but also runs her own independent businesses. Mickey has personally put his share of people in the ground but that was years ago. 

Feeling a little bit bored with success, Mickey has decided that the time has come to exit the business, take the money and spend all day every day with Rosalind doing the activity that people do when they intend to make babies. To this end he's made a tentative deal with Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong), a Jewish American billionaire. Mickey will sell the business to Matthew for $400 million and ride off into the sunset. 

However a wrench is thrown in Mickey's plans when other people in and out of the underworld decide that they can profit from Mickey. One such man is smarmy and aggressively gay tabloid reporter Fletcher (Hugh Grant). Armed with an alarming level of knowledge of Mickey's operations and crimes, Fletcher approaches Mickey's professorial underboss and #1 troubleshooter, Raymond Smith (Charlie Hunnam). 

For the low low price of $25 million, Fletcher won't publish everything he knows or turn over certain files to the authorities. Fletcher REALLY wants the money though he also gives every indication of being willing to drop the price if he could (ahem) "get to know" Raymond better. 

The Chinese Mafia in the person of ambitious underboss Dry Eye (Henry Golding) is also very interested in buying Mickey's business. Colin Farrell appears as a choleric boxing coach with a bunch of hardheaded boxers, many of whom are also formerly (?) aspiring criminals.

All of these people interact with each other in a melee of lies, mixups, mistakes, double crosses, triple crosses and cons. So this is a more violent British mashup of Superfly and The Sting

As I mentioned some of the jokes felt a little questionable or fell flat. I am always amazed that in American English the absolute ugliest slur in the lexicon for a woman is in British English much less offensive and occasionally even a rough term of endearment. 

McConaughey and Hunnam are very cool, maybe too much at times for the story. All in all this was a decent way to pass an afternoon, provided you aren't turned off by some stereotypes and one disgusting set piece that may be driven by dislike for the paparazzi.
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