What does blackmail, breakdance fighting, marijuana farms, and Hugh Grant in strange orange-tinted sunglasses all have in common? Each are important elements of The Gentlemen, a film following the tumultuous buyout of the largest marijuana empire in the United Kingdom, directed by Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes). Well, the sunglasses aren’t so important, but they sure are memorable.
Within seconds of the film’s opening titles, a gun is fired in a cozy pub. Who was shot and who was the gunman? Fletcher (Hugh Grant), a shifty detective in London, plays our crude narrator to enlighten us on whodunit.
Straight out of a spy novel, Fletcher steps out of the shadows and into a thin beam of light in the quaint home of Ray (Charlie Hunman). With his thick Cockney accent, Fletcher twists the tale of Ray’s boss, Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), an American-born drug lord who has run into some trouble in the multi-million-pound sale of his multiple marijuana farms scattered throughout Great Britain’s countryside.
Scenes shift back and forth between Fletcher and Ray trading menacing remarks and the film’s plot of blackmail, violence, and revenge between Pearson and his foes, including Dry Eye (Henry Golding), another jealous drug lord craving Pearson’s lot, and Coach (Colin Farrell), a fight instructor who, at one point, gets into a knife brawl with a group of teenage boys in a fast-food joint.
To Pearson, each of the vengeful plots against him are all fun and games until his enemies go after his wife, Rosalind (Michelle Dockery), whom he refers to as “his queen.” Once she’s brought into the mix, Mickey and Ray take charge, leading a montage of gruesome scenes.
The scrambled narrative allows the audience to be misled a few times, providing some shocking plot twists. Ritchie’s coupling of dry English humor and ruthless characters throws the audience into a cheeky British mystery with an underlying message spoken by McConaughey early in the film: “In the jungle, the only way a lion survives is not by acting like the king, but by being the king.”