If there were two things that surprised from last week’s viewing of Bad Boys for Life, they were this: one, it was a very entertaining film for a January release; and two, it had an unexpected Christian message that snuck up on me. With this film, The Gentlemen, an ironic title by the way, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I would’ve been surprised if I had gotten the same reaction from when I saw Bad Boys. Did lightning strike twice within a two week span? Let’s find out.
In The Gentlemen, a British gangster film, we follow Mickey (Matthew McConaughey), a American who lives in the United Kingdom where he has established several “farms” for growing marijuana and thus establishes himself as a drug lord in the U.K. When word gets out that Mickey wants to retire to the countryside with his wife, several different gang member want to take advantage of this opportunity. Two of them are an American billionaire drug named Matthew (Jeremy Strong) and Dry Eye (Henry Golding), a underboss for a Chinese crime lord who wants to step up in criminal world. Also, I failed to mention earlier that most of this story is being told by an investigator (Hugh Grant) and Mickey’s right hand man Ray (Charlie Hunnam) which makes this a somewhat of a meta film.
The Gentlemen could’ve been a brilliant crime film, but what keeps it from being that is the overall structure of the film itself. The film, for the most part, is told non-chronologically, and I don’t mind narratives that go this route, and they are usually films with dialogue and direction that gravitates towards me. This film, however, didn’t pull me in (at first) and from that point the film’s incoherent structure started to bore me. Every so often there were comedic moments that caught me off guard and I enjoyed, but soon after that I was back to being bored. There were several times, in fact, that I kept checking my phone for the time and as I’ve stated in previous reviews, once I do that more than once it’s usually a sign that I’m no longer interested in the film.
It wasn’t until the third act of The Gentlemen, however, that everything started to make sense and some of the characters became more likable. For example, Matthew McConaughey’s character showed his “gentleman” side, proving the thing he values most in life were his wife (as every married man should value). It was also during the third act that I was able to comprehend the narrative itself and from there I was able to enjoy the film in a better perspective. I just wished that this tone wasn’t just near the end as I’ve could’ve enjoyed to a higher degree.
In retrospect, the format the director (Guy Richie) chose to direct The Gentlemen could’ve worked, but execution didn’t live to its potential, which is a mild disappointment in the end. I would be lying, however, if I said that I didn’t enjoy this at the end and it’s all thanks to the third act. Maybe after another viewing I could appreciate it even more since I know what to expect.