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What Went Wrong With… The Gentlemen?

A poster for Guy Ritchie's The Gentlemen acknowledging the racism

Guy Ritchie is back with his latest film The Gentlemen, which on the surface, purports to be a back-to-his-roots offering in the same vein as Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch. The trailer and promotion seems to be completely misleading however, as what we actually have is a slow and rather dull gangster drama peppered here and there with humour but lathered with copious amounts of racism. The end product is therefore very disappointing, whether you’re a fan of Guy or not. The Gentlemen is a movie so out of touch with society and popular culture that Ritchie has finally become what most of us always thought he was: an overrated posh cunt who’s running out of ideas.

Despite its obvious (and many) flaws, The Gentlemen is currently being overrated within an inch of its mockney-cockney life; as I write this review it holds an 8.3/10 on IMDb and 70% on Rotten Tomatoes. What’s odd about all this is, if Ritchies’ two best movies are 8.2 and 8.3 out of 10, then surely this latest disappointment should be well below a 5? Is this another case of corrupt critics over-hyping certain films or easily-pleased fans pushing up the scores of everything until ratings become meaningless? Maybe a bit of both?

The problems with this film are vast; there’s bland direction, mundane dialogue, the jokes don’t land, the pace is slow, and the costumes are out-of-style. For anyone expecting a “Snatch 2“, they’ll be greatly disappointed. There’s also a downbeat score and an unconvincing story, and the overall tone is more Layer Cake than Lock Stock (basically a substandard copy). If you haven’t seen the trailer, The Gentlemen is all about drug kingpin rivalries with some blackmail thrown in. There’s not much point in outlining the plot in detail however, as it’s all very contrived and fairly predicable with absolutely no twists or turns (as Guy’s aforementioned and most famous films were).

The main issue with this film is that the characters are not believable or that likeable. There’s no Brad Pitt or Robbie Gee here (endearing actors) and there’s nobody as memorable as “Brick Top” or “Boris The Blade” either. Granted, these characters were stereotypes but they were played so well, and the story that surrounded them was so entertaining, that you forgot about all the cliches.

In The Gentlemen, there’s Matthew McConaughey playing a smarmy yank, a weed-dealing twat who moralises one minute but threatens people the next. Henry Golding plays a cocky but cockless arch-rival who always leaves every scene with his balls in his hands. Jeremy Strong is some sort of Jewish Marc Almond lookalike pretending to be dangerous. Michelle Dockery is finally playing someone from East London but she sounds (and looks) unconvincing. And Charlie Hunnam plays a bearded, spectacled, bodyguard-slash-henchman but with his M&S dad outfit, it doesn’t look quite right. The only actor who delivers a watchable performance is Hugh Grant, but Grant who is a phone-hacking crusader in real life, seems to be more concerned with mocking unscrupulous journalists than making an entertaining film. Alongside the twat from Downton Abbey and the dick from Sons Of Anarchy, most of the cast most of the time, unconvincingly talk like gangsters (which apparently means shouting “cunt” every few minutes). The delivery of this word is more often than not, uttered without any meaning and it therefore comes across as cunting unrealistic and even cunting excessive.

Then there’s the casual racism. There’s a conversation Colin Farrell’s boxing coach character has with a black boxer (played by Bugzy Malone) which amounts to “‘black cunt’ is a term of endearment so stop taking offence”. Now where do you usually hear that type of opinion? From right-wing gammon, that’s where… we used to call coloureds “nig-nog” and “wog” but there was no harm in it, why can’t you lot laugh at yourself? It’s political correctness gone mad! (they fume as their capillaries flood their fat face with blood). This exchange then moves on to the black character being urged to say “pikey cunt” which seems to be an excuse for all the anti-gypsy slurs in Snatch, a kind of retrospective defence for bigotry courtesy of Guy Ritchie. The line and viewpoint “‘black cunt’ isn’t saying all black people are cunts” then seems to go completely out of the window and in the rest of the film every racist slur amounts to “you lot are…”. Added to the fact that all the black characters are either boxers or hoods, lackeys or muscle, it’s safe to say the dialogue, the story-line, and the overriding memory of The Gentlemen is the overabundance of unnecessary racism.

With minority sellouts like Golding and Malone dying to appear in any high-profile film regardless of content, is it any wonder why it takes so long for minorities to get anywhere in entertainment? Okay, so Guy Ritchie has made two classics in his life, but doesn’t anyone read a script before they sign-up to a bigoted, inferior follow-up? I guess not.

The racism isn’t just confined to black stereotyping and “P.C. Gone mad” sentiments however. Take the character names of “Dry Eye” and “Bunny” (of Asian and African decent respectively). It’s pretty obvious that Ritchie doesn’t have the balls to have characters called “Slant Eye” and “Jungle Bunny” in his movie but that’s probably what he was thinking when he was bashing away at his keyboard with his chubby white fingers. And on that note: either go all-out with the racism and make it realistic or don’t bother. And maybe include a few replies by the minorities because if some curly-haired, wannabe gangster spoke like that to the Chinese mob (or at least their lackey) there’d be an equally racist retort, in English and/or in Chinese.

Similar to ball-bags like Sarah Silverman, Guy Ritchie seems to think he’s being equal by inserting a few “Jews” among the rapid-fire racism aimed at the Asians. By throwing in a bit of relatively inoffensive anti-Semitism, these wankers think everything is proportionate. But that’s not how it works; there’s absolutely nothing said against the white characters… not one single comeback or snide comment at all! I mean where’s the anti-American or anti-British stuff to balance-out the anti-Asian shit? Calling Golding’s character a “duck-eating cunt” but not McConaughey’s character a “burger-munching, cock-sucking, corn-syrup-nonce” isn’t realistic or equal. Describing Henry Golding’s character as looking like a “Chinese James Bond” but following that with the hackneyed line “Rice-ence To Kill”, the slurs aren’t even that clever or particular humourous.

SPOILERS AHEAD

In Snatch, after being the target of incessant anti-gypsy slurs, the travellers hustled everybody and killed their enemies. Here however, we have “you Russian this, you Asian that, black cunt, black cunt” but in the end the white guy is saved from the clutches of death as almost every minority in sight dies. Very one-sided. And whilst on this topic: all the anti-Asian, anti-hard-drug shite is in bad taste considering Britain’s involvement in the Opium Wars. Bottom line: it’s not like this garbage is a morality tale or a well-crafted story of revenge, especially since the Russians are unsuccessful with their deserved retribution, so what’s the point in all the bigotry?

What’s strange about this film is that it seems to have been created to balance out all the recent fake-liberal shite that Hollywood has been spewing. On one end we have crappy, wannabe-woke films denouncing bigotry in a completely false way (Black Christmas or Aeronauts) and on the other we have this bullshit; something actively defending bigotry and wanting more of it. The problem with all this is that both ends of the scale are controlled by white Hollywood who are obviously so out of touch with society that they’re now betting both ways. These tits are trying so hard to appeal to minority, millennial liberals and middle-aged, right-wing, gammon that they’ve forgotten the whole point of film: to enter-fucking-tain.

The point of view is also either confused or duplicitous. The attempted rape of a female character requires the perpetrator to be shot but a character merely being a slimy news mogul means he should get drugged and raped by a pig at the hands of a lovable Irish rogue. Imagine if Eddie Marsan’s character was a woman. That would have played quite differently… #MeToo.

Granted, The Gentlemen isn’t the worst film out there but it’s very dull even if you ignore all the one-sided racism and the self-pitying classism. What “self-pitying classism” you may be asking? Well, there’s the completely misjudged subplot about poor rich folk with their huge estates and crumbling properties. Lords with money problems? Oh boo hoo 😭. They’re not going to fucking food banks though are they Guy? You completely deluded, out-of-touch cunt. Sob, sob, rich people have to pay inheritance tax, oh how terrible, it must be so hard for you. The most nauseating scene however, comes in the form of a posh bitch called Laura dying of a drug overdose and we the audience are supposed to cry over her dumb-arse whilst hating the Chinese who sell these terrible narcotics to her and her toff friends (“chasing the dragon” is never mentioned but I’m sure that’s the reason everybody involved in heroin is Asian). Which self-respecting rich-girl goes to a council estate to get high anyway? She could have Deliveroo Editioned some Class A drugs to the end of her half-a-mile-long driveway. In reality, most drug victims are poor whereas rich cum-stains like Laura can spend a few weeks at a spa-slash-rehab-clinic and be back to posting their skinny arse on Instagram.

There’s so many out-of-touch elements in this flick; firstly the bastardisation of grime music, although I suppose it has become watered-down and weak of late so that’s to be expected. Alongside the wack rhymes, wagu beef, and weed, there’s the cover-version of O.D.B.’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” which sounds like hipster trash. There’s also an all-female car modding garage but ironically, because the mechanics have been hired for their looks rather than their skills, they’re seen struggling with getting bubbles out of some vinyl wrap 😂. And while I’m at it, the News Of The World scandal was almost a decade ago, another completely irrelevant thing to insert onto a movie in 2020.

Most of the content seems to be pulled out of the mid-noughties and most of it is cringe-inducing. Ritchie could have added dubstep and parkour to the mix with someone uploading their happy-slapping footage to Facebook (actually, that’s not that far off one of the scenes). A quick note for this old prick: nobody young says “whips” and “rims” any more. Get your shit in order. And if you’re writing some “witty” dialogue, make sure the quips match their target. For example, mentioning “Northern Soul” to anyone younger than 60 and south of Birmingham makes no sense at all. And FYI Marvin Gaye wasn’t “Northern Soul”.

All the appalling writing is very surprising since Guy became famous for penning unique, comedic, non-linear, gangster thrillers. If you weren’t told who this film was written and directed by, you wouldn’t be able to tell. Ritchie of course, has made worse pictures than this. The Gentlemen is not as pretentious as Revolver but it’s not as watchable as Rock-N-Rolla. So given the general mediocrity of this film, it’s an odd thing to have a dig at Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation in one scene, with one of the characters calling it “a bit boring”. The irony is that The Gentlemen is so banal and drab that this reference and comment feels offensive. And oh yes, why include the “pound of flesh” mutilation suggestion from Se7en? Very out of place.

The Gentlemen seems to have been made so middle-aged white people can feel good about themselves; the audience in my neck of the woods were giggling at the casual racism and agreeing with Charlie Hunnam’s character moaning about “liberal white guilt” (I was surrounded by a hoard of white couples so well targetted I guess). That being said, the laughs were few and far between. Even die-hard Guy Ritchie fans have to acknowledge the slow, plodding tempo of the majority of the movie. The moments where Hugh Grant’s character tells his story to Hunnam are intriguing but what follows these scenes is subdued by comparison. The lethargic pace is akin to an old man’s walk, with both this film and Ritchie needing some kind of kick up the arse or maybe some Sanatogen. Less marijuana and heroin and more cocaine or amphetamines.

To close, the script for The Gentlemen almost seems to be Guy Ritchie’s train of thought translated to screen…

“Why are all those Chinese and Russians coming over here? Why are they so rich? I bet it’s because they sell drugs or are in the mob. Their children are taking all the spots at the best universities, my kids don’t have a chance. And their kids are probably dealing drugs too, all I ever did is smoke some weed, that should be legal, it’s all the other stuff that’s wrong. Who did I get my drugs from? Who was that bloke Madonna knew? Who’s the one Jacqui knows? American man, right? Remember when Maddie called Rocco “my nigga” on Instagram? Why can’t she say that? Stormzy says it all the time. It’s political correctness gone mad. What did that review say about my last few films? I hate newspapers”.

… That’s basically the plot of The Gentlemen. Then, after shooting wrapped, it was over to the editing suite…

“Anyone in here have any weed? I bet one of you black cunts has some. What about you? You look like a pikey? You must have some? You do? Light up that blunt! This skunk is the bomb! I’m Guy motherfucking Ritchie bitches! Oh shit, that’s right, I’m Guy Ritchie, maybe I should chuck in one random subtitle and a couple of arrows with hand-written text reading “some cunt” and “Mossad Crabs” even though text overlays appear nowhere else in the film. Ahhhh, my mid-life crisis movie is finally finished. Get in!

Gentlecunt.

Writing: 2/10

Directing: 4/10

Acting: 4/10

Overall: 4/10

14 replies »

  1. You are completely wrong. Oh please with the racism rant – yawn. Best movie I’ve seen in ages. Couldn’t disagree more with your opinion. I think you might have missed the point that the ‘casual rascism’was done for effect, but of course you just need to regurgitate the same old PC line.

    • 1. Why did you come to a website called “What Went Wrong With” if you love this film so much? There’s plenty of sites kissing Guy Ritchie’s arse at the moment, maybe bugger off to one of them.

      2. What point was Richie trying to make with all the racism? And what “effect” did it have other than to attract twats like you?

      3. Please stop leaving multiple replies with different email addresses. Piss off and find a Guy Ritchie appreciation society instead of spamming my shit.

      4. If that’s the best movie you’ve seen in ages, fuck knows what else you’ve been watching.

      5. What’s actually becoming hackneyed and trite is the same old “it’s P.C. gone mad” line. Congrats on being a white cliche… or a cunty cracker… oh sorry, that was done for “effect”, hope you didn’t miss the point.

    • I agree. Great movie despite what these snowflakes think. They are offending by free speech if doesn’t align with their reality.

    • Judging by that badly-written comment, you’re one of those morons on the right who can’t seem to accept the fact that people have differing opinions. Upon reading or hearing something that doesn’t gel with your world-view you begin to hurl cliches such as “snowflake” and “free speech” at folk. Just to clarify for your dumb-arse: a film review is an opinion. It’s so great that we have people like you; bastions of free speech condemning free speech.

      You really are a prat. Confirmation of that came when you left two comments under two different names and then followed my site by email.

  2. Very perturbing to see working class lads rooting for the upper class and continually support films made by a self-confessed ‘toff guy’. The Gentlemen is about aristocrats losing their enormous estates. Excuse me if I don’t shed tears for their losses.

  3. Thank you so much. This review is accurate, fair and in my opinion, lenient. Totally agree with the not-so dog-whistle racism that was on display but on so many other levels it was a poor movie plot: see below for spoiler examples.

    *** Spoilers ***
    Just off the top of my head
    1. The gangster’s wife’s car, no number plate at the front, as required by UK law. Concealing a paper weight gun is fine but nobody’s getting away with this, seriously WTF?
    2. No thought for picking up the bullet casings after the firing semi-automatic in the air demonstration? Did they learn nothing from Layer Cake?
    3. Enough with the played out Crocodile Dundee Buffalo hand-calming gimmik. It was rubbish in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and just as ridiculous in The Gentleman.

  4. A most brilliant review if slightly overlong. Found myself nodding in agreement repeatedly as I read through. You should be writing for some of the giants though – Rolling Stone, Guardian etc. Very talented writer. Great job.

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