The Gentlemen (season 1)

Slick and suspenseful, with characters to both love to love and love to hate, Guy Ritchie's The Gentlemen is a home run.
85/10032478
Starring
Theo James, Kaya Scodelario, Vinnie Jones
Creator
Guy Ritchie
Rating
TV-MA
Genre
Action, Comedy, Crime
Release date
March 7, 2024
Where to watch
Netflix
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Story/Plot
74%
Visuals/Cinematography
79%
Performance
85%
Direction
90%
Non-Wokeness
97%
Rating Summary
After a swing and a miss with Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre, Guy Ritchie has more than redeemed himself by doing what he does best: snazzy-dressed uber-Brits shooting off both guns and plucky dialogue.

Guy Ritchie is a British filmmaker known for his distinctive style characterized by fast-paced editing, sharp dialogue, and gritty storytelling. He gained widespread recognition with his breakthrough film “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” in 1998, followed by “Snatch” in 2000, both of which became cult classics. While recently, he has dipped his toes into the serious war flick arena with Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant, The Gentlemen showcases the Ritchie who was made famous by dry Brits and fast-talking pikeys.

The Gentlemen (season 1)

As Ritchie’s long-time friend Matthew Vaughn recently showed us with the abysmal Argylle, stylized slow-motion and quippy dialogue are not enough to propel a story forward on their own. Happily, The Gentlemen benefits from Ritchie’s signature style being judiciously metered out by the series’ four directors (including Ritchie, who helmed the first two episodes), giving audiences a delightful blend of often fun, sometimes tense, always engaging escapism.

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Set in the world of high-stakes drug empires, Duke Horniman has died, and he’s left his son more than his title. Unbeknownst to him, the new duke’s inherited list of problems includes a declining estate that’s home to both his eccentric family and a secret drug empire run by an evil syndicate.

Theo James shines as the newly minted Duke of Halstead, the second eldest and more responsible brother of a family whose lineage descends directly from the storied British Kings of old. As the new duke finds himself committing ever-deeper acts of depravity in an attempt to divorce himself and his family from the seedy underworld that his father has tied them to, by sheer charisma, James extorts audience sympathies like an empathic loanshark collecting fandom vigs.

James is not alone by any means. Every performer was cast from a golden die and plated like a three-star Michelin meal, with each exuding equal parts magnetism and menace, buffoonery, or whatever their particular part called for.  However, if one must stand out amongst this pantheon of perfection, it is Daniel Ings who plays Freddy Horniman, the new duke’s eldest brother.

Freddy is a f#@<up. Unfortunately, no more diplomatic phrasing better captures Freddy’s full flavor. He’s a coke-addicted and pampered lordling who’s never known a minute’s responsibility. While that particular character has been done and done and done, much as a Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve 1955 is more than just bourbon, thanks to Ings’ experience and talent, Freddy is more than a two-dimensional fool.

Rounding out the standouts is Kaya Scodelario, who plays Susie Glass, the manager of the billion-dollar weed farm concealed beneath the ducal estate’s dairy farm. Scodelario, probably best known for playing Carina Smyth in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, could have easily played Glass like an obnoxious teenage feminist’s interpretation of a man, like so many other strong female characters in modern cinema. Instead, her Glass is a strong, no-nonsense businesswoman who is neither unstoppable nor a caricature of masculinity.

As binge-worthy as season 1 may be, no program is without its faults. In many respects, The Gentlemen substitutes style for originality with a fairly predictable and routine plot and “twists.” There are also one or two noticeable plot-expediting decisions made by characters that run contrary to those characters’ established intelligence and savvy.

When the marijuana plants have dried, and the gypsies have been paid, season 1 of The Gentlemen is a fun and suspenseful 8-episode romp for viewers who like British cool mixed with dirty dealings.

WOKE ELEMENTS

  • Meant to be quasi-humorous, the throwaway line, “they don’t leave a carbon footprint,” is said.
  • UN Soldiers. – That’s it. They don’t have much relevance or screentime, but their existence in anything as more than a joke is worth derision and at least a fraction of a woke point.
  • One of the characters calls a car full of priests who offer him a ride the priest pedophiles.
  • One of the more dangerous criminals believes himself to be a deeply religious man who communes directly with God. However, his warped faith is never a recrimination of the Faith. Instead, the unholy juxtaposition is made because his bastardization of Christianity makes him that much more twisted and disturbed. I took no points off for this.
  • A character is pregnant and unmarried, and the family’s celebration of it could be considered woke modern relationship dogma. However, the single pregnant woman does not express sanctimony. Furthermore, the delight at the pregnancy expressed by both the mother and her family was a refreshing affirmation of the life growing within her.

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James Carrick

James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.

3 comments

  • Red29375

    March 11, 2024 at 5:10 am

    Sweet, something actually worth watching. Man, it’s been ages

    Reply

  • Bunny With A Keyboard

    March 11, 2024 at 6:37 pm

    People ask why it’s okay to call priests pedos and not other people. The way I figure it, it’s rarity and percentages. Like, we mock clowns for being creepy murderers even though less than 1% of clowns actually fit the description of murderer. If there was a high percentage of clowns murdering people, calling clowns murderers wouldn’t be funny anymore.

    Similarly, we know that priests doing such evil things is likewise extremely rare.

    Reply

    • Sweet Deals

      March 13, 2024 at 6:03 pm

      I have a different idea. I wouldn’t say it’s “okay” to call a priest a pedophile (assuming you’re only joking and not accusing or slandering), but I do understand why people would make jokes about it. A priest is someone who is occupationally held to a high moral standard, so calling a priest a pedophile would imply hypocrisy (and imply that pedophilia is morally unacceptable, too). Irony makes hypocrisy humorous.

      A similar joke would be if an environmental group staged a large benefit concert in a local park to promote environmental awareness, and the whole park was left completely trashed the next day because nobody who attended the concert thought about picking up after themselves. It’s hypocritical, ironic, and viewers who recognize the irony would find it amusing if they didn’t feel sorry for the trashed public park.

      Reply

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