Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey: The Beach Bum) went from a nobody in Texas to the king of marijuana distribution in England in two decades. He’s beloved by the gentry, feared by other gangsters and celebrated for making high quality strains of weed that no other distributer can touch. If you smoke it, Mickey’s probably got a hand in producing it.
But Mickey wants something more in life: Retirement. After a lifetime of clawing and killing to be king, he’s ready to be one of the rich and landed lords he hobnobs with. All he has to do is sell off his business. But nothing is ever that simple in a Guy Ritchie movie.
Mickey’s decision sets off a gang war that could take him and the rest of the English underworld down. The key to stopping disaster may lie in Fletcher (Hugh Grant: Paddington 2), a sleazy tabloid investigator who wants to sell his info to the highest bidder.
Can Mickey and his band of crooks come out on top? Or is it true that crime doesn’t pay?
When he was starting out, director Guy Ritchie (Aladdin) made a name for himself with frenetic twisting caper comedies that plumbed the depths of the English crime world. Then he made truly awful films for about 19 years.
It’s heartening to report that The Gentlemen is a successful return to his roots, featuring all the Ritchie hallmarks. Quick cuts in the action scenes make things seem more hectic. Classic rock music punctuates scenes of people looking cool. Dozens of monologues are filled with macho posturing and fanciful turns of phrase. Every outfit is meticulously chosen to be either impossibly stylish or utterly hilarious. This flick is slick, funny and filled with gonzo twists and action.
It’s not a perfect film. Ritchie’s humor is forever sophomoric and if you’re unimpressed with swagger-filled speeches and crude humor, this likely won’t amuse. Though everyone’s technically a bad guy in this movie, the Asian mob is set up as the worst of the bunch and a lot of the movie’s humor comes from the white criminals mocking them.
Still, this is an A+ cast that makes the material shine. Grant gives a stellar performance as the sleaziest man to ever attempt a blackmail scheme. His flirtatious tête-à-tête with Mickey’s beleaguered right hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam: Jungleland) is one of the best parts of the movie.
Colin Farrell (Dumbo) also earns laughs as Coach, a boxing coach desperately trying to turn around a passel of young criminals by teaching them the art of fisticuffs. His sincere love paired with some truly bonkers choices makes him the most endearing person in this hive of scum and villainy.
If you’re a fan of Ritchie’s early work, or just want to watch Hugh Grant flirt shamelessly with the right hand to a crime lord, The Gentlemen is worth the ticket. If, however, you’re looking for something subtle and nuanced, then you’ve probably never heard of Guy Ritchie in the first place.
Good Action Caper * R * 113 mins.
The Rhythm Section
When her family is killed in a plane crash, Stephanie’s (Blake Lively) world falls apart. When she learns that the crash was a deliberate act of terrorism, she’s enraged. Lost and with absolutely nothing to lose, Stephanie decides to exact a pound of flesh from those who ruined her life by training to become a one-woman army.
The studio clearly wants this to be a Bond-like series, a thriller with international intrigue. Between the hackneyed writing and Lively’s ridiculous British accent, this movie isn’t promising. If you’re looking for a thriller featuring a tough female protagonist, renting Atomic Blonde is cheaper than the price of this mess.
Prospects: Dim * R * 109 mins.
Gretel & Hansel
Abandoned in the countryside, Gretel (Sophia Lillis) must fend for herself and her brother (Sammy Leakey). Hungry and exposed, she has little option but to lead her brother further into the woods.
The siblings find a house and a seemingly nice woman willing to take them in. But there’s something sinister happening in the woods and Gretel may be the only one who can get them to safety.
Directed by Oz Perkins (son of horror legend Anthony), Gretel & Hansel is a visually arresting take on the classic fairytale. With interesting cinematography this could be a fascinating horror flick. It is a January release, however, meaning that the quality could be subpar. The fact that it’s under 90 minutes means that if this is a mistake, at least it’ll be a quick one.
Prospects: Flickering * PG-13 * 87 mins.