A Review of The Gentlemen

The Gentlemen
The Gentlemen
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The Gentlemen is the latest Netflix series by Guy Ritchie where he takes his popular gangster geezers characters to television. It is well-shot, quite digestible, and often enjoyable, but it also exposes the fact that TV is not an ideal medium for conveying the fervor, wit, and speed of Ritchie’s talent.

When British Army captain Eddie Horniman (Theo James) is called back home due to his dying father – Archibald Horatio Landrover Horniman, the Twelfth Duke of Halstead – he unexpectedly becomes his father’s successor and inherits everything much to the annoyance of his unstable sibling Freddy (Daniel Ings). The backstory behind Archibald’s hilariously unconventional name remains a mystery; however, apart from this scene which moves at a nice pace in its beginning. In other words, there are immediate illustrations of how different Eddie who can think coolly without losing control, and Freddy who can be unpredictable sometimes are as well as how he falls into Eddie’s sudden predicament.

However, there’s a hitch. There are some dubious business practices already in place on the property; meaning that under the estate itself exists his father’s operation belonging to him. What this means then is that some criminal enterprise with regards to marijuana farming runs underneath their house. This facility is operated by a group having several others like it scattered throughout just about every other aristocrat domicile who would rather have money than do their jobs.

It should be mentioned here that Netflix’s The Gentlemen has no more relationship with last year’s film with the same title beyond this point. They both only feature underground weed plants incorporated into UK aristocrats’ residences, but none of them has ever made reference to anyone in particular from any movie.

To begin with, I found it difficult to watch Netflix’s The Gentlemen without thinking about what I know about its namesake film; thus distracting me. For instance, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where exactly Eddie’s farm facility sits in the vast weed empire that Matthew McConaughey’s Mickey Pearson leads until I finally realized that…Pearson doesn’t exist in this world? Instead, Ray Winstone’s Bobby Glass and his daughter Susie (Kaya Scodelario) engage in… similar business running.

Netflix’s The Gentlemen is indeed an acceptable British crime drama by itself once you get past this issue, though it seems less funny than I expected from this man who gave us Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and even The Gentlemen itself. Specifically, there is no character within the series who can ever be compared with Colin Farrell’s Coach or Hugh Grant as Fletcher the humorously slimy tabloid journalist – but Guz Khan an outrageous money launderer is amusingly short-lived. Similarly, Dar Salim (who has shifted from Guy Ritchie’s Covenant into a brief cameo here) comes across highly when playing a Frenchman who excels at hiding corpses and greets everyone while being drunk.

James is convincingly cast as the new Duke of Halstead, complete with the appropriate accent and the air of a sophisticated aristocrat, though his role as Eddie lacks depth. He gets a chance to shift from being smooth at times to feeling pent up and angry but for all the eight episodes, it never got clear why Eddie was better than others in outsmarting any thug in England’s underworld within seconds.

“Do you know what I love about the British aristocracy?” Giancarlo Esposito’s Stanley Johnston (with a T, as he and others are wont to point out throughout the series) asks Eddie at one point over a drink. “They’re the original gangsters. The reason they own 75% of this country is because they stole it. William the Conqueror was worse than Al Capone.” Suffice it to say that Eddie was in the military and he’s also a Duke.

Winstone always coasts through as Bobby Glass, but all of these parts are perfect fits for him. Scodelario excels as street-smart Susie; she does remind us somewhat of Michelle Dockery’s tough-talking Rosalind from the movie – although Scodelario herself has significantly more screen time in it than anyone else.

However, Vinnie Jones steals this show with his performance. His character Geoff speaks very softly but he can be terrifyingly intense whenever required, otherwise, however, he conducts himself quite properly which makes for an interesting casting choice by Jones – and also somewhat subversive after he played Ritchie’s previous characters like Lock Stock’s Big Chris or Snatch’s Bullet-Tooth Tony.

The story first feels like a bunch of missions out of Grand Theft Auto where Eddie tries to save his family from Glass’ control while doing odd things for different criminals coming in and out of its gates. However, it soon finds its pace heading towards an explosive climax. Ultimately some strands that almost seemed to be forgotten are eventually brought back into play, although the end of this series is a much smaller affair, compared with the climax of Ritchie’s Snatch for example – or any of The Gentlemen films.

Final Decision

Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen is a slick and well-casted film that carries enough inertia to get it through until its wishy-washy yet rather effective climax. However, it is quite jarring how alienated it seems from the fantastic movie that served as its inspiration. This show slightly lacks humor in comparison to other amusing gangster comedies by Ritchie and the rather slow episodic format common in TV just doesn’t sizzle with tension as his works generally do.

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