Guy Ritchie returns to the R-rated crime capers that launched his career with The Gentlemen, bringing together what could be considered a dream cast, including Mathew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant.
The Production: 2.5/5
American Michael Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) has built a large marijuana business in London, and now wants to retire, selling the business to a rival dealer, Matthew (Jeremy Strong). However, private investigator Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who apparently has questionable morals and ethics, has been collecting dirt on Pearson for tabloid journalist Big Dave (Eddie Marsen) and now wants to use that to blackmail Pearson by laying out the dirt he’s collected to Pearson’s right hand man, Ray (Charlie Hunnam) and requesting 20 million pounds in exchange for sitting on the said dirt. Fletcher tells the story as if he was pitching a screenplay to a studio executive (Grant is decked out in yellow-tinted sunglasses and leather jacket, begging for the movie to be shot on 35mm film, not a digital memory stick), with Ray interrupting him from time to time when Fletcher over exaggerates the story. The deal begins to fall apart when one of Pearson’s top secret farms is raided by a gang of young thugs who just want to shoot a choreographed fight/music video. The Chinese mob also want to muscle in, lead by Dry Eye (Henry Golding).
While I got a kick out of Hugh Grant’s performance, the movie is overstuffed with plot and characters which quite often drags down the film. Colin Farrell is also quite humorous as the gym owner and trainer of the thugs who raided the pot farm, but it’s just one more subplot to further confuse the audience. Writer-director Guy Ritchie’s script and direction is often too smug and the “jokes” often fall flat, as do many of the action sequences. Although Ritchie is returning to the type of film that started his career (films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch), it almost seems as if he’s run out of ideas for that genre. I really wanted to like The Gentlemen, but found it to be a slog to get through.
3D Rating: NA
Ironically, although Hugh Grant’s character prefers movies shot in 35mm, The Gentlemen was captured at 3.4k resolution on Arri Alexa XT Plus cameras and completed as a 4k digital intermediate. This is a nice-looking movie (although not nearly as colorful as Ritchie’s previous movie, Aladdin). Universal’s 2160p HEVC-encoded transfer includes HDR10 high dynamic range, which does help with the darker color tones used in the film. Contrast is very good, providing deep blacks and solid shadow detail – Fletcher’s lurking in the shadows early on is much more prominent on the UHD version than on the included 1080p Blu-ray. Detail is also excellent, with well-defined fabric textures in the costumes and furniture.
The sole Dolby Atmos track is enjoyable, much more than the movie. The track (also included on the 1080p Blu-ray) has excellent clarity, fidelity, and dynamic range to provide hard-hitting gunfire, fist punches, and car crashes, as well as the hip-hop and 1960s classic rock inspired soundtrack. Overheads are used to great effect, adding even more impact to the action on screen. Dialogue is clear and mostly understandable (due to some of the thick accents) throughout.
Special Features: 1.5/5
The Gentlemen was a co-production between Miramax and STX, and the weak extras are as expected for an STX release, which have been included on both the UHD and Blu-ray discs.
Best Gentlemanly Quips (2160p; 3:09): Three minutes of what the filmmakers believe to be some of the best lines from the film.
Glossary of Cannabis (2160p; 0:46): The many different phrases used in the film for marijuana.
Behind The Scenes of “The Gentlemen” (2160p; 1:36): A typical pre-show behind the scenes trailer for the film.
Photo Gallery (2160p): Collection of stills from the movie.
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy on Apple TV.
I really wanted to like Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen, and despite some good performances, the movie was just too overstuffed with plot and characters and plodded along. YMMV.