This is one of those movies that came out before the Covid 19 outbreak but I still took a pass on. Director and writer Guy Ritchie’s early movies like “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” always left me scratching my head, primarily because I couldn’t understand what the characters were saying in their cockney accent. Later movies like “Aladdin” (haven’t seen) and “Sherlock Holmes” (please one was enough) play to a larger audience but lack some of the moxie from the earlier films. “The Gentlemen” plays it somewhere in between. Yes, some of the characters maintain a cockney accent but it is softer and two American actors (Matthew McConaughey and Jeremy Strong) are in key roles which helps as well.
The story opens with one of the main characters appearing to have been killed. We quickly learn that this is a story in some respects fabricated by a character named Fletcher (Hugh Grant) who is currently working for Michael “Mikey” Pearson (McConaughey) in his weed growing empire in England. Fletcher has aspects of being a movie producer/director/writer and is using his experiences to create a screenplay. So the film is told in flashback as Fletcher is attempting a bit of blackmail against Mikey’s right hand man, Ray (Charlie Hunnam).
One of the better aspects of the film is that it is quite a good story, one with lots of surprises, twists and turns but also one can follow if you’re paying attention. Mickey is an American who went to Oxford but quickly learned he can be more successful sell marijuana which is called “bush” instead of pot as near as I can tell. Mickey and his wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery) are looking to get out of the business. Rosalind has her own high end custom car business she owns. Mickey has been approached by another American named Matthew (Strong) and they agree on a price of 400K (pounds or dollars I can’t remember). Mickey has set up a string of growing operation on 12 estates throughout the country that are owned by the upper crust of society. In return Mickey pays each 1 million pounds a year.
Matthew indeed wants the business but wants it for a lot less money. So a plot unfolds whereby plans are in place to accomplish that. Make no mistake, while this is clearly a crime film with plenty of dead bodies it is also comedy at its darkest. In one scene a man falls to his death and Mickey asks Ray if he or one of his guys killed the man, Ray replies, “No, gravity killed him.” In a late scene, one of the characters is drugged up and commits an unspeakable act which has been filmed as a blackmail ploy. When other characters are watching it, someone says, “You can never unsee that.”
Bottom line, I loved this movie. It has many moving parts but they all come together in the end. Henry Golding, Colin Farrell, Eddie Marsan have supporting roles and they are excellent. Hugh Grant has never been better. Highly recommended.