Guy Ritchie’s “The Gentleman” caught fire on Netflix’s trending tab months ago, which might bode well for a spinoff series in development that is seeking to be greenlit from the streamer. “The Gentleman” was a film that slipped past me when it came out and managed to pull me in mostly because of its cast.
The film opens with Fletcher (Hugh Grant), a private investigator trying to extort money out of Raymond Smith (Charlie Hunnam), the right-hand man of U.K. cannabis baron Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), who runs an extensive cultivation operation through the properties of the U.K.’s elite, compensating them by offsetting their estate and inheritance taxes. Fletcher serves as the film’s primary narrator, telling the audience of Pearson’s rise to power and his desire to sell his business for £400 million to American billionaire Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong), so he can retire in peace with his wife, Rosalind (Michelle Dockery). Fletcher had been hired by a tabloid to get dirt on Pearson and get to the bottom of his link to Lord Charles Pressfield (Samuel West), whose daughter is addicted to heroine.
Pressfield just so happens to be one of the property owners Pearson is working with, which leads to Smith retrieving his daughter from the people she is doing drugs with, which doesn’t go as planned — one of the boys she was hanging out with, Aslan (Danny Griffin), falls from a balcony and dies, which becomes a huge problem as he’s the son of a Russian oligarch who blames Smith and Pearson for his death.
Meanwhile, crime boss Dry Eye (Henry Golding) shows interest in buying Pearson’s operation, but is turned down, which creates animosity. Later, amateur MMA fighters/YouTubers named “The Toddlers” raid one of Pearson’s facilities, which prompts their mentor, who is only referred to as Coach (Colin Farrell), to make things right.
The movie’s plot is an ever-changing web that we are told mostly through an evening narrated by Fletcher and Smith after the fact, with Fletcher serving as an unreliable narrator Smith must correct. Smith is a gentleman, but also a ruthless henchman not afraid to get his hands dirty, but it’s clear that his politeness holds him back and often leads to complications when he’s on a mission. Aslan’s death is a prime example of that, as his sloppiness proves to be nearly fatal.
Fletcher is perhaps the most interesting character in the film because he’s playing all sides and is constantly seeing who he can blackmail and take advantage of for the largest payout. Grant provides an endearingly charismatic performance that serves as the driving force for the film.
McConaughey also gives a solid performance, though I can’t say that it’s one of his best. The same can be said for the movie as a whole — it was a pleasant experience worth watching a second time in order to pick up new context and meaning by virtue of being in on the film’s schemes, but it’s nothing groundbreaking. It’s a solid watch if you you’re flitting through Netflix and want something safe and mild.
“The Gentleman” gets an 8/10