A strange trend has emerged in recent years. Tarantino’s “Once upon a time in Hollywood” actually confessed his love for cinema and Hollywood itself. Scorsese’s “The Irishman” was the final point in the genre of mafia cinema movies. And Guy Ritchie, having released “The Gentlemen”, seems to have squeezed everything he could out of the stories about British bandits, and put that into an ideal film.
Richie, in general, became the father of this genre. His “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, being to some extent a reinterpretation of Tarantino’s works with a smaller budget and in London, set the tone for crime thrillers about losers from the shabby areas of huge cities — and now, twenty years later, the losers have shown entrepreneurial acumen and turned into the very big shots from which they were raked. At least “The Gentlemen” focuses on those who:
- has already achieved success
- reached their journey’s end and wants to retire now
In this idea lies the plot of the film: the character of Matthew McConaughey, Mickey Pearce, came to Oxford from the United States to study and stayed there, building a drug empire. He has successfully developed it for decades, and now has decided to retire with his wife, Roz, who runs a luxury tuning studio, played by Michelle Dockery. But, as always, something goes wrong. And then things turn upside down.
In his last films, Ritchie was only a director, but he also wrote the scenario “The Gentlemen”
Therefore, the story and plot here mutually play with the brand chips that are recognized by Ritchie’s films: several points of view on the event, where one gives the overall picture, and the second either clarifies it or refutes it, showing how everything really was, as well as special angles, the correct sharpness of transitions and all that.
The main narrator in “The Gentlemen” is Fletcher, either a shrewd private detective, or just a good individual who can get information, played by Hugh Grant. One evening, he comes to visit Mickey Pierce’s right-hand man, Raymond, an unexpectedly charming wardrobe performed by Charlie Hunnam, and begins to blackmail him. Moreover, Fletcher presents his story in the format of a script for an action-packed crime comedy called “The Bush”. In this format, Richie’s signature techniques (voice-over, frozen frames, rewinding back and forth) are revealed perfectly.
The whole film is a time machine in the late nineties and early noughties. In many ways, it differs from “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” only by the presence of mobile phones and social networks in the plot, and a slightly increased cruelty and seriousness. At the same time, there are not so many moments of cruelty, but most of the damage, including fatal, the characters in “The Gentlemen” get by their own stupidity, and it is simply unrealistic not to laugh at this, and the blood is aesthetically scattered in carefully calibrated close-ups with a beautiful fan. Every shot is justified — and the fact that they are not enough, their value only increases.
Another noticeable difference from best new movies is that there’s a lot of racist jokes that appear unexpectedly in the theme in such stories. Yes, it’s 2020, but this film, as I said, is a time machine. It could be brought into line with current standards, but in the form in which it is, I think it immediately went from the section of new blockbusters to the shelf of criminal classics — just because of the reluctance to comply with these standards. And yes, there were bad Russians, of course.