Movie review: Never a dull moment in highly engaging 'The Gentlemen'

Edmund Silvestre

BRITISH filmmaker Guy Ritchie’s upcoming “The Gentlemen,” which hits cinemas across the Philippines on January 29 and distributed by Captive Cinema, is not your ordinary gangster crime film. It’s sophisticated, intelligent, humorous, highly engaging, and deliciously violent.

The star-studded action-comedy is led by Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey, in his subdued turn as American marijuana kingpin Michael “Mickey” Pearson, an Oxford-educated man who has built a lucrative weed empire in London.

Mickey is seeking an exit from his business and criminal lifestyle so that he and his wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery) can start a family life and join London’s upper echelons of the aristocracy. When word gets out that Mickey wants to cash out his secretive pot-growing operation, all hell breaks loose as other crime lords try to take over Mickey’s domain and fortune.

Mickey offers to sell his holdings for $400 million to a fellow American billionaire, Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong), but the latter doesn’t want to pay what Mickey is asking so he forges some surprising alliances to drive down the price.

Meanwhile, the heir of a Chinese syndicate, the wannabe Asian crime lord Dry Eye (Henry Golding), also wants Mickey’s business so badly that he sets off a chain of betrayals and double-crosses that lead to violent killings. Fortunately, Mickey has a trusted right-hand man, Ray (Charlie Hunnam), a loyal gangster who protects him and his empire. But will Ray be able to save Mickey’s life from all attempts on his life?

The nearly two-hour film is totally engaging from beginning to end, and the audience will find themselves guessing as the plot unfolds. It reminds us of the witty and stylish works of Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill) and Martin Scorsese (The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street). The acting is first-rate, and the dialogue is sharp and meaty, but peppered with profanity -- including the constant use of that c-word, which is as bad as the f-word. The flamboyant costumes, and set design are top-notch.

The stellar ensemble also includes Hugh Grant and Colin Farrel, whose amazing talents were used to the fullest. Grant and Farrel stand out in their respective roles as Fletcher, a sleazy and blackmailing private detective out to dig up some dirt on Mickey for a tabloid newspaper; and Coach, a boxing coach and mentor for wayward boys, who all get entangled in the fray when they rob Mickey’s marijuana farm, recorded the theft and let it go viral on social media. Grant and Farrel light up the screen with their amusing characters.

Not to be outshone is the lone female lead, Michelle Dockery (of Downtown Abbey fame) as Mickey’s wife Rosalind, who kicks ass in her Christian Louboutin and while keeping things running in her husband’s empire. She’s beautiful, strong, smart and just as tough as Mickey and the nasty gangsters around them.

The Gentlemen, produced by A TOFF GUY Production and presented by Miramax, is Ritchie’s return to the fast-paced crime comedies that made him famous like Sherlock Holmes; Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; and Snatch. It also comes almost a year after the phenomenal success of his Disney fantasy-adventure “Aladdin,” which made a billion dollars in the box-office.

So catch “The Gentlemen” and grab a popcorn. It’s worth your time and money.