Guy Ritchie’s curse on free TV
With this free TV premiere, Guy Ritchie is back in the genre that made him famous. “The Gentlemen” is a pure gangster comedy.
Guy Ritchie’s (53) film may be called “The Gentlemen”, but the weird characters in his gangster comedy are not at all familiar with good manners. Instead, they murder (sometimes accidentally), force sodomy and verbally hit their heads in between. Typical Ritchie, then. With “The Gentlemen”, which celebrates its free TV premiere on ProSieben at 8:15 pm on December 5th, he reflects on all the virtues of his best films – and on some well-known flaws.
The desire for gangster retirement – that’s what it’s all about
The American self-made drug lord Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey, 52) has built a highly lucrative marijuana empire in London. But he would also like to have some of his hard-earned wealth before one of the numerous competitors has the idea of painting the walls with his brain. So Mickey and his wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery, 39) are busy trying to find a buyer for his flourishing drug business and to lead a legal life in the British upper class.
There is no shortage of interested parties for the takeover – only their willingness to loosen up the 400 million dollars Mickey has called for his secret high-tech plantations. To make matters worse, Mickey’s closest confidante Ray (Charlie Hunnam, 41) has to deal with Chinese triads, drug-addicted millionaire daughters and annoying Instagram kids as well as the smear Fletcher (Hugh Grant, 61). He works for the biggest gossip newspaper ever, got wind of Mickey’s machinations – and therefore now wants to have a juicy piece of the cake.
Ritchie, stick to your movie ledges
From the 1001 nights of the billion-dollar blockbuster “Aladdin”, filmmaker Ritchie fell back on his home gangster streets. The ex-husband of pop star Madonna (63) should now walk again with a mixture of joy and nostalgia. After all, thanks to his debut “Bube, Dame, König, grAS” in 1998 and finally in 2000 with “Snatch – pigs and diamonds”, they helped him gain recognition across the pond. Such a thoroughbred Ritchie, like the 53-year-old delivered in 2020 with “The Gentlemen”, was last seen in 2008 (and much worse) with “Rock N Rolla”.
In the past ten years, Ritchie has instead worked more and more (“Sherlock Holmes”) and sometimes less successfully (“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”) on oversized, pop-cultural figures. “The Gentlemen”, on the other hand, seems like a return, even like a distillate from his two best films to date, that is, his sophisticated debut and the direct successor “Snatch”. This is made abundantly clear by the fact that in “The Gentlemen” both grass and a pig play an important role, and in the piglet case even an unforgettable nasty role. (You won’t want to sing “Old McDonald Had A Farm” to your children afterwards …)
Too cool and / or too complicated for this world?
Now all the virtues as well as some of the usual flaws of a Guy Ritchie go hand in hand with it. The tendency to unnecessarily convoluted narrative structures with a huge number of characters, for example. His trademark, some appease, “Style over Substance”, others complain. The latter is not entirely wrong, but Ritchie manages to bring his film to a coherent ending. And that, although towards the finale he hits more narrative hooks than a rabbit on speed.
The core of “The Gentlemen” are the razor-sharp dialogues of the sometimes caricaturesque characters. This combination has always characterized Ritchie’s works and can be admired in its purest form in his gangster comedy. The scene thief of the film is of all people “Mr. Romantic Comedy”, Hugh Grant. As the gossip blowfly Fletcher, he not only makes Hunnam’s figure wonderfully uncomfortable advances. He uses the word “Fuck” like a comma and is also allowed to drag through the cocoa that professional class that he says he despises most. After his performance in “The Gentlemen” one immediately regrets that Grant had to play the lovable bowl so often.
The second actor who is remembered despite a few scenes is Colin Farrell (45). As a pragmatic coach in a checkered Proll tracksuit, he has had the biggest laughs and underlines once again that he is a man for all genres. Which leads to the flick’s biggest penalty: With Grant and Farrell in top form, lead actor Matthew McConaughey of all people stinks. As drug lord Mickey, he plays himself as diligently as ever, his Texan butt sore, but the laurels for the successful film by Guy Ritchie are rightly harvested by others.
With “The Gentlemen” fans of Guy Ritchie get the weird, bitter angry and hilarious entertainment with which the British filmmaker started his career. Like “Bube, Dame, König, grAS”, “The Gentlemen” may be unnecessarily complicated, but Ritchie somehow gets the curve again at the last moment. Just to see Hugh Grant in an unusual, wonderfully played role as an opportunistic disgust, it is worth switching on.