As long as you can ignore its cultural insensitivities, The Gentlemen is riotous brilliance from start to end.
The Gentlemen Synopsis
Mickey Pierson is a self-made American marijuana Caesar with a network of well-hidden farms in the UK. Keen to take life easy, he proposes to sell his empire, farms, and networks and all, to American billionaire Matthew Berger for 400 million. To Mickey’s subsequent disgust, details of the proposal quickly leak out, and Mickey’s operation is soon harassed by Dry Eye, the underboss of a rival Chinese drug lord. Worse, the editor of a tabloid also catches wind of the deal. That editor, deeply hateful of Mickey for a snub, dispatches an obnoxious PI to investigate. The PI then approaches Mickey’s own enforcer for a private settlement.
It’s well-known but still worth a mention. Guy Ritchie is one of those directors whose concepts of storytelling and comedy are styles you either love or loathe.
An acquired taste, in other words. Not too unlike the smelly foods of the world.
The man’s in-your-face concepts of brotherhood and masculinity aside, I think Ritchie’s movies usually have a certain easy-flowing energy. It’s a zest that’s uplifting to lose yourself in. Provided you can ignore the more socially questionable and appalling elements of his tales.
On The Gentlemen, well, I think such a zest was palpable throughout the movie, brilliantly executed too by some of the best (middle-age) actors of this generation. Dependent on criminal and racial stereotypes as they were, these A-listers effortlessly delivered the charisma or sleaze of their roles. The combined product of which was a story that was as hilarious as it was twisty, as it was unapologetic.
I should give praise to the dialogue too, which dished out some of the most linguistically beautiful lines I’ve ever heard from a crime comedy. So, SO ticklish too, when paired with British street talk and curses.
And while parts of these lines did border on the ostentatious, I think they framed the movie with a grim self-awareness. Beneath all the humour, The Gentlemen made it clear that it understands that crime is first and foremost, brutal. There is always blood and murder, no matter how criminals try to hide under glitz and glamour. Shallow sophistication is no lasting camouflage.