By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

After dabbling in various kinds of projects, including last year’s Disney live-action adaptation of Aladdin, Guy Ritchie is back with a low down , nasty and violent thriller–the familar type of criminal affair that made him famous. With The Gentlemen, Ritchie makes a much-needed return to form that offers villainy, witty dark humor, and colorful characters. Ritchie’s latest features a fantastic cast, with some wickedly delightful standout turns by Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant, and Colin Farrell. Ritchie’s brand of British crime cinema hasn’t always appealed to everyone, but die-hard fans of his first two films (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch) are sure to relish in his latest foray into the “cockney” underworld.

McConaughey stars as Mickey Pearson, an American immigrant who has achieved much success as the leading dealer of marijuana in England. Though Pearson is on top, other more ambitious parties are interested in making a hostile takeover. Mickey’s dedicated second-in-command, Raymond (Charlie Hunnam), receives an unsolicited visit from professional snoop Fletcher (Hugh Grant) who has some valuable information regarding the recent attempt on Mickey’s life. The movie follows Fletcher’s account of the events that lead up to the attack, while Raymond must determine whether or not the sleazy detective’s facts are accurate.

Writer/director Ritchie, who co-wrote the story with Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies, slowly unravel a rather twisty, and riveting tale of ambition, greed, and the resulting violence. Though Ritchie has chosen a rather clever way of presenting the story, this particular choice proves to be somewhat unnecessarily convoluted for the movie’s own good. It isn’t so much that the movie is hard to follow, but Ritchie’s desires to misdirect and surprise does take away from any smooth pacing the movie could’ve had. Still, the mix of humor, violence, thrills, and enjoyable characters works well enough despite the clumsy approach to the material. In addition to the great acting by the srars I mentioned above, The Gentlemen features fun and exciting supporting work by Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, and Eddie Marsan.

The Gentlemen is one of those movies that doesn’t demand to be watched on the big screen, but it is entertaining enough to leave audiences satisfied with their ticket purchases. Now, I am not going to rave about what an amazing filmmaker Guy Ritchie is. The guy has some solid skills, but obviously has a comfort zone. And that comfort zone is comically-flavored crime cinema. It is what he does well, and whenever he has tried to branch out, he has yet to prove himself. My recommendation for the filmmaker is to stick with what you know. The Gentlemen is proof positive of this.

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