Guy Ritchie returns for another entry in his "gangsters of London" collection, with yet another surprising set of casting choices that work out perfectly, crafting a set of unlikely characters all trapped in the same twisting narrative. What's real and what isn't is, as ever, left for the big reveals in the final act, with the story told in jumps and starts throughout, but ultimately The Gentlemen is just another piece of evidence that Ritchie is one of the best in the business at this kind of film making.
I don't think it quite lives up to Snatch in terms of sheer audacity, but I really enjoyed the characters that inhabit this version of London's underworld. Matthew McConaughey is a lot of fun and a perfect central man around which the plot revolves, but (as with most Ritchie films) the movie really shines around the edges. Colin Farrell's "Coach" is a great inclusion as the man just caught up in everything, and his unlikely gang of "Toddlers" are a brilliant fusion of British street culture and comedy, with everything from YouTube to Grime to parkour being showcased in their antics. Offsetting their wild antics is the main storytelling device, a very slow conversation between Hugh Grant's PI and Charlie Hunnam's right-hand-man, as the former attempts to extort the latter in a showdown that provides standout performances from both. Honestly, I was really surprised at Grant's inclusion in the film from the posters we saw around when it was in cinemas, but he's absolutely perfect; I'm not sure I've ever really seen him act before and he's utterly brilliant.
Which isn't to say anything of the rest of the cast, all of whom are great, though for the most part they just sit in their plot points nicely as the story rattles along, keeping the audience guessing (for the most part). Yes, it's a similar setup and layout to most other Guy Ritchie gangster films, so if you're a fan you'll probably see a couple of the twists coming, but that somehow doesn't spoil the fun at all. More importantly, it never loses track of itself or tries anything too ridiculous. The world is over the top, the action absurd, and the situations the characters get into more than farfetched, yet it always holds to its own sense of logic and takes you along with it as a result, whilst throwing in some nice easter eggs during the course of things (the nod to Ritchie's failed Man from U.N.C.L.E franchise, plus a humorous retelling of some prior pig-related scenes in other films). And of course, the right bad guys win in the end.