“THE GENTLEMEN” (Rated R)

 

 

GENTLEMEN” LOOK SHARP IN CRIME DRAMA; CABLE TV PREVIEW 2

A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley

 

THE GENTLEMEN” (Rated R) British film director Guy Ritchie first made a name for himself with the gangster films “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch,” establishing his own unique brand of the caper comedy.

Then it all went downhill when he married superstar Madonna in 2000 and lost his cinematic mojo as evidenced in the disastrous remake of “Swept Away,” a critical and box office flop, starring his then pop-star wife.

The good news is that Ritchie has regained his form with the direction of “The Gentlemen,” a cool British crime drama with a cheeky tone infused by good dialogue that is abetted by a stellar cast in great shape.

Matthew McConaughey’s Mickey Pearson, an American expatriate who has built a marijuana empire in England, is looking to cash out of his profitable business to enjoy his attraction to the upper-crust way of life.

Mickey would like to spend more time with his loving wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery), a tough partner in crime with an independent streak and a head for business running her own auto body shop.

That Mickey wants to sell his lucrative empire for $400 million attracts the attention of enterprising criminals seeking to gain the upper hand in negotiations, leading of course to nasty confrontations.

The effete American billionaire Matthew (Jeremy Strong) has the financial wherewithal to buy out Mickey, but the thuggish Dry Eye (Henry Golding), a young hotheaded Asian gangster with a propensity for extreme violence, is looking to snag the business at a cutthroat price.

The criminal machinations get even more muddied when a bunch of wayward delinquents pulls off a heist at one of Mickey’s weed farms, thereby putting their mentor Coach (Colin Farrell), a boxing instructor, on the hot seat to repay a debt for their misdeeds.

Holding the story together in a clever way is the de facto narration that comes with Hugh Grant’s sleazy private eye Fletcher pitching a true-crime script to Mickey’s right-hand counselor, Ray (Charlie Hunnam).

Employing flashbacks that span the entire film, Fletcher and Ray engage in a back-and-forth that reveals the private eye’s motivation is to extract the princely sum of $20 million from Mickey in order to kill the sale of his tell-all to an eager tabloid paper. Throughout the unfolding events, Mickey is locked into his persona of the charming rogue and self-made criminal genius who seems to be always a few steps ahead of rivals that include murderous Russian oligarchs and a garden variety of homegrown thugs.

Various plot threads running throughout the entire film result in curious interactions among the competing criminal factions, leading to a lot of snappy, boastful humorous chatter and plenty of boisterous action.

The Gentlemen” offers proof that Guy Ritchie maintains a natural flair for an entertaining, humorous caper even if the film might be considered an outlier in certain circles of modern culture.

CABLE TV WINTER PREVIEW – PART 2”

During the winter TV press tour, Hulu’s executive in charge of original programs, Craig Erwich, explained the cable network’s expanding relationship with the Walt Disney Company as a pipeline for “deeper access to the most sought-after talent” to produce more original programs.

Premiering on February 14th is the ten-episode series “High Fidelity,” which departs from Nick Hornsby’s 1995 novel and beloved 2000 film to center on Rob Brooks (Zoe Kravitz), a female record store owner in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. The series proposes to adhere to the core conflict of the central character who at once is a kind of hopeless romantic which is fueled by an obsession with pop music and, at the same time, cynical about whether things will work out.

As executive producer, Veronica West observed during a panel discussion, “High Fidelity” has a link between the series and the other properties but this new program is “something new and different” and not intended to be “predictable.” Acorn TV is an American subscription streaming service offering television programming from the United Kingdom but also other countries such as Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Spain.

During the press tour, Matthew Graham, General Manager of Acorn TV, noted that the cable channel, as part of the AMC Networks family, is “finding exciting opportunities and synergies that open up entirely new avenues for growth.” Acorn TV has not yet established the level of reach of Amazon Prime or Netflix, but it has a very popular offering in the British comedic mystery series “Agatha Raisin,” returning for its third season on February 10th.

Based on the novels of M.C. Beaton, “Agatha Raisin” stars Ashley Jensen in the titular role of a former high-powered London PR executive who retired early to a small village in the Cotswolds and found a second calling as a sassy detective. Investigating mayhem and murder, Agatha resorts to unorthodox and amusing methods to help solve crimes, like staying all night in a haunted house, pretending to work on a reality TV show and donning disguises. “Agatha Raisin” should be worth a look.