Catching up with Guy Ritchie’s violent crime caper recalls his London gangster-comedy roots, particularly Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.
Sporting a goatee, thick-rimmed glasses and a campy Cockney accent, Fletcher (Hugh Grant) is a smarmy private investigator who specializes in digging up dirt about the filthy rich. As the narrative evolves, he pays a late night visit to Raymond (Charlie Hunnam), right-hand man to American expat Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey).
While studying at Oxford, enterprising Mickey made money as a drug dealer to impoverished British aristocrats who agreed to hid his cannabis plantations on their country estates.
Apparently, tabloid newspaper editor Big Dave (Eddie Marsan) wants to take Mickey down as he prepares to sell his illegal marijuana empire to fellow Yank Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong), much to the chagrin of ambitious rival gangster Dry Eye (Henry Golding).
But a bold raid on one of Mickey’s hidden weed sites by social-media savvy thugs called the Toddlers ignites a chain of retaliations, as the Toddlers report to a tartan track-suited mentor/boxing Coach (Colin Farrell).
What smirking Mickey, sporting a sparkly ear stud, wants is to retire rich and enjoy the rest of his life with his street-smart wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery).
“If you want to be the king of the jungle, it’s not enough to act like the king – you just be the king,” he declares in a voiceover.
Writer/director Ritchie concocts a complicated, contrived, often confusing plot that’s filled with bloody bickering and betrayal, augmented by clever twists, along with a total disregard for political correctness, since one character is offensively referred to as “the Chinaman” while another is “the Jew.”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Gentlemen” is a slick 7, a fast-paced romp for die-hard Richie fans.