The Gentlemen wants to be something. Desperately.
And yet, as so often happens when we are blinded by what we want, we trip over what is right in front of us and end up sprawled on the ground.
It’s the same thing here, in more ways than one.
Matthew McConaughey stars as Michael…or Mike…or Mickey, an American who made his fortune growing marijuana under the wealthy English estates. He decides to retire and goes looking for a buyer for his empire. The vultures descend, the daughter of one of the estate owners goes missing, and Mike/Michael/Mikey is soon over his head.
Or so it would seem.
A good 75% of the film is narrated by Hugh Grant’s Fletcher, a shady private investigator hired by a tabloid editor to keep tabs on Mickey. Crouching in bushes and armed with telephoto lenses, this has given Fletcher a quasi-omniscient view of many of Mickey’s exploits. Fletcher writes up his findings in the form of a screenplay, which he attempts to use to blackmail Raymond, Mickey’s #2 (Charlie Hunnam).
If any of this sounds confusing…well, it is. Fletcher’s narration of the story—and thus most of the film being one flashback or another—quickly gets tiring and comes off as lazy filmmaking.
Most of the rest of the story is held together by tenuous, borderline-contrived connections between characters (Michelle Dockery, Henry Golding, Jeremy Strong, and Colin Farrell also star).
From beginning to end, The Gentlemen feels frantic and last-ditch (and not like Uncut Gems, which leveraged both to create a masterpiece). Even the tongue-in-cheek title and Kingsman-franchise knockoff branding are grasping at something just out of reach, trying to make this star-studded film not seem like the very January release it is.