‘The Gentlemen’ Review

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writer: Guy Ritchie

Cast: Matthew McConughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Henry Golding, Colin Farrell, Jeremy Strong, Tom Wu, Eddie Marsan and Hugh Grant

Synopsis: A British drug lord tries to sell off his highly profitable empire to a dynasty of Oklahoma billionaires.

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Writer/director Guy Ritchie made a splash on the film scene with his gangster comedies like Lock, Stock and Two Smokin’ Barrels and Snatch. He’s recently taken a crack at a TV spy adaptation in The Man from U.N.C.L.E (which is criminally underrated), a different take on King Arthur with King Arthur and the Legend of the Sword and recently, the successful, Disney live-action film Aladdin. One thing that was clear in all of them, Ritchie has a style that he’s mastered, and it’s damn enjoyable when he finds his groove. Enter, The Gentlemen.

Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), an American-born, marijuana kingpin in London is looking to get out of the game. He’s lucky enough to find a buyer in Jeremy Strong’s Matthew, but when Dry Eye (Henry Golding) tries to make a move on Mickey’s empire, things get a little too complicated. On top of that, Mickey’s right-hand man, Ray (Charlie Hunnam) has to deal with an ambitious, and somewhat sleazy cunning private eye in Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who is under employment from Big Dave (Eddie Marsan) to write a big story.

I won’t lie, I’ve been looking forward to The Gentlemen since I heard about, and it really did not disappoint. The movie is truly a Guy Ritchie film, but with some grown maturity from the filmmaker. The film throws you right into the action of everything with the movie mainly being told through the framing device of Fletcher telling Ray what he’s found out. Because of that, the first act of the movie is pretty exposition heavy, but Ritchie’s setting the stage for everything that’s about to come.

The movie doesn’t really slow down too much, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your viewing. Honestly, the only thing that I would count against the movie is sometimes the plot can get convoluted, and Michelle Dockery, who plays Mickey’s wife Rosalind, doesn’t have too much to do expect one pretty out there scene that surprisingly works.

If the plot doesn’t draw you in then maybe the cast will. McConaughey plays it pretty straight despite him playing a weed kingpin, but it’s the confidence that he drips makes the character. Hunnam’s Ray is a loyal soldier to Mickey and besides dealing with Fletcher, he deals with another subplot in the movie. Henry Golding’s Dry Eye isn’t the most interesting “villain” in the movie, and you can clearly see his ambition gets the better of him. Jeremy Strong’s Matthew still a character you like to hate, which the handful of scenes he has.

Easily, the two show-stealing performances belong to Colin Farrell’s Coach, a boxing coach to the local young kids, and is a much more important character than you think. Then there’s Hugh Grant, who is having a BALL playing Fletcher, as he chews up the scenery every time he’s on. He’s a bit scummy, but it’s hard to hate him.

All in all, The Gentlemen is an entertaining gangster comedy from beginning to end, with a great cast and catchy dialogue. It’s a fine return to form by Guy Ritchie to the genre, and something I hope we see more of him in the future.

The Gentlemen

Rating: Stamp of Approval

 

‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ Review

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Dir: Guy Ritchie

Writer(s): Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram

Cast: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Luca Calvani, Sylvester Groth, Misha Kuznetsov, Jared Harris and Hugh Grant

Synopsis: In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

2015 really does seem to be the year of the spy genre. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation came out a couple weeks ago and the next James Bond film, Spectre is coming out in November. Both films are totally different so it’s nice to see something a little more loose and fun with The Man from U.N.C.L.E. coming out his past weekend. Not to say the film doesn’t have its moments of seriousness, but The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a nice alterative to some of the other films out there.

 

Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film is based on the old 60s shows of the same name, is set in the early 1960s at the height of the Cold War, and follows CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Cavill) having to team up with and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Hammer) to work with an East German mechanic Gaby Teller (Vikander), whose father – a known scientist and ability to make a nuclear bomb – has been kidnapped by Victoria Vinciguerra (Debicki) to build a bomb. The plan is for Illya to pose as Gaby’s fiancés in hopes that Gaby’s Uncle Rudi (Groth) can arrange an introduction, as Solo tries to charm Victoria so they can get the Intel they need to rescue Gaby’s father and stop the bomb from being sold and used.

 

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The film works as a pseudo-prequel to the TV show, as it shows how the group came to be. Solo is one of the CIA’s best agents, like Kuryakin is the best the KGB has to offer and are focused to work together in order to, for all intent-and-purposes, save the world. The two aren’t on the best terms since the film opens with an impressive chase scene – that also involves Gaby – and right before they team up, they beat the crap out of each other. They also have their own ways of going about a mission and it also doesn’t help that their respected agencies have their own agenda. However, despite being on different sides of the war, the two form a weird and competitive friendship and mutual respect for each other.

 

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In fact, one of the best aspects of the film is the relationship and chemistry between Cavill and Hammer. The banter they exchange with and about each other is funny and brings another layer to them. Cavill – who actually replaced Tom Cruise after he left the project – brings a great dose of charisma and is heavily suave when need be. Cavill is easily enjoying himself here and loves chewing up some of the scene. Hammer, goes against the usual stereotypes of Russians as bad guys, and makes Illya more of earnest character that balances his anger than the other way around. Hammer also seems to be having fun playing the character and putting on the Russian accent.

 

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Alicia Vikander, thankfully, isn’t a female character that is put off to the side and actually gets to be involved in the mission, for the most part. Vikander is becoming one of my early favorite actresses after seeing her in Ex Machina, and she doesn’t disappoint here. She stands out in her bigger scenes, especially one that involves her and Hammer in a hotel room. By the end, she does get a bit lost in the background.

 

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The rest of the supporting cast really doesn’t work out that well, unfortunately. Elizabeth Debicki’s Victoria and Luca Calvani are supposedly to the villains of the movie, but they don’t essentially earn that title. Maybe we’ve been spoiled by good spy film villains with the James Bond and Mission: Impossible films, but The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is its own thing in being a bit looser, but still no excuse for not having a good villain. Sylvester Groth’s Uncle Rudi does okay, but by the time we know more about his character and is finally growing, the film is done with the character. Jared Harris plays Solo’s CIA contact and boss, but it really is nothing more than an extended cameo for Harris, and the same goes for Misha Kuznetsov who plays Illya’s KGB boss. Finally, Hugh Grant’s Waverly character pops in around the middle of the film and disappears until the final act, and I have to say, I wish he was in it just a tad bit more. The character feels more like he was a character they were building up for potential sequels, but I wish they gave him a little more to do in the actual film beforehand.

 

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Guy Ritchie is sometimes known for choosing style over substance in his films, and while that rings true here in some areas, the other areas he find a nice balance in some of the scenes. But, the film almost lends itself in some areas to choose style of substance, especially in the beginning action sequence – which is a hell of a lot of fun – and in some instances during the final action sequence. Speaking of the final action sequence, it almost saves the film, in the sense that the final act makes up for some of the slow pace during the second act. The final action sequence is also elevated a bit more because of the score. The score adds another great layer to the scene that makes it even more fun to watch.

 

All in all, The Man from U.N.C.L.E is a ton of fun. Cavill and Hammer bring a lot of the fun and humor to the film that sets it apart from the other spy genres that are coming out this year.

 

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

4 out of 5

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