“The Gentlemen”

 

            They are gentlemen in manner and bearing.  They are well-spoken, and one would assume, well-educated.  They enjoy a commanding presence, and inspire loyalty in their subordinates.  But their hearts are black.

            First, we are introduced to Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), an American interloper (thanks for not going for the fake British accent over your Texas drawl, Matthew).  He's a drug lord, or more precisely, presides over a clandestine operation of subterranean greenhouses, where he grows marijuana.  Illegally.  But it's good stuff, and the demand is high, and so he's built himself quite a distribution network, as well, but of course there's always somebody trying to horn in on his territory. What we like about Mickey is that he is actually quite devoted to his lovely wife, Rosalind (Michelle Dockery), who's as shrewd as he is about running her own business, but they are actually talking about buying a home in the country and spending more time together.  (Is there a retirement plan for drug dealers?)

            Matthew (Jeremy Strong) is another mild-mannered gangster who has indicated an interest to Mickey in buying the whole operation, lock, stock, and aromatic barrel, but at the same time, being a shrewd businessman himself, he's taken steps to try to lower the value of Mickey's holdings.  A little larceny here, a little vandalism there, and suddenly the whole enterprise starts to look shaky.

            But Matthew has his own problems, because somebody's trying to horn in on his business, as well.  “Dry Eye” (Henry Golding) brings a kind of Asian mafia vibe to the role, though his mentor, Lord George (Tom Wu), is not at all ready to turn over the reins.

            Throw in a pugnacious journalist, Big Dave (Eddie Marsan), a loyal henchman, Ray (Charlie Hunnam), an Irish tough, Coach (Colin Farrell) who stumbles into the fray, and a narrator who's also a private eye but a bit of a scammer, Fletcher (Hugh Grant), and you've got quite a volatile mix of egos, agendas, and alpha dogs snarling at each other for territorial supremacy.

            Yes, it's violent.  But once you remind yourself it's all make-believe, you can sit back and enjoy the machinations, as each plot twist gets you closer to understanding who the real king of the jungle is. And it just might be Guy Ritchie, who wrote and directed and even produced this adult fairy tale that's rough and bloody from the first scene. It's a fun ride, but not recommended for the squeamish or genteel.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association