After dabbling in worlds created by others, including Sherlock Holmes, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Aladdin, director Guy Ritchie decided to return to his roots and tell a quirky English crime caper. Whether he was feeling nostalgic or attempting to regain the cred earned from the wonderful Layer Cake is unknown. What I can tell you is that while far from perfect, The Gentlemen is an entertaining delight.
The film is largely a two-handed, an engagement between Fletcher (Hugh Grant), an untrustworthy independent reporter, and Ray (Charlie Hunnam), the right hand to drug lord Michael Pearson (Matthew McConaughey). It’s move and countermove between the two as Fletcher tries to extort 20 million pounds or reveal what he believes to be the scoop of the year. And as they go back and forth, they tell each other pieces of the bigger pictures and then we go into flashbacks. Each time one thinks he’s trumped the other, we get a new wrinkle, another story, and things fall into place. By the end, you’re satisfied and amused which we could all use right about now.
The flashbacks and changing points of view may take some getting used to if you’re unfamiliar with Ritchie’s earlier work. But they and the oddball cast are what make the film worth watching. It’s terrific seeing Grant cast against type and he’s well-matched by the underseen Hunnam. That said, we’ve seen McConaughey in this role before so he’s fine, just boring in comparison, and the more versatile Michelle Dockery, as his wife Rosalind, is way under-utilized (and there should have been far more prominent women in the story). Colin Farrell steals every scene he’s in as the athletic trainer/thug Coach, who manages a gang of boxers turned gangbangers.
There’s some predictability here and there along with some stereotyped characters marring the story, but overall, this was fun to watch and should have done better before we were quarantined. There is strong production design and costuming, especially Grant and Farrell.
The film is now available from Universal Home Entertainment in all the formats you could ask for including the Blu-ray, DVD, and digital HD combo pack. Note: the digital HD is for iTunes only, which I personally object to.
The 1080p transfer nicely captures the colors, lighting, and textures. The Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 default) audio mix is also strong so the viewing experience is a positive one.
As entertaining as the film is, the Special Features leave a lot to be desired. You get Best Gentlemanly Quips (3:09), Glossary of Cannabis (00:46), Behind the Scenes of The Gentlemen (1:37), and a Photo Gallery.