Length: 113 minutes / 1.88 hours
I’ve enjoyed a good portion of Guy Ritchie’s filmmaking. While many of his more recent movies rely on franchise appeal (Sherlock Holmes (2009), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) and Aladdin (2019) are of note), I usually associate his style of filmmaking with the British heist film (like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000)). Consequently, I was looking forward to seeing his recent film, The Gentlemen (2020), as it seemed to be a return to the kind of filmmaking that attracted me to Guy Ritchie films in the first place.
Unfortunately, it seems Ritchie has been away from his core movies for so long that he’s almost forgotten how to make them. The meta framing with Hugh Grant and Charlie Hunnam was clunky enough that even Hunnam’s character was getting bored with the “telling” in the exposition provided by Grant’s character. Sure, there were a few neat twists here and there, but it was trying so hard to be a meta-movie like Seven Psychopaths (2012) or The Player (1992) that it lost its focus. In the end, it spent too much time trying to interweave the narrator’s narrative and the story narrative, and all it ended up with was a jumbled mess of a movie.
I didn’t feel like the action or cinematography (two elements that defined Ritchie films in the past) was lacking. This was mostly because so much of this movie is told to us via Hugh Grant. Perhaps this was also because the meaningful action didn’t even end up being real, but rather the imagined “movie version” of events that played so counter to the characters and how they would act as to break the suspension of disbelief. I’d forgive doing this once, but it seemed to happen on more than one occasion, resulting in an annoying “just kidding” wink from the narrator far too often. At the very least, The Gentlemen does show the difference between boys trying to be tough and men who are actually tough.
A Guy Ritchie film that tries, and fails, to reignite the magic from his first movies, I give The Gentlemen 2.5 stars out of 5.