Series Review: The Gentlemen

Guy Ritchie’s slick, sly, and darkly funny Netflix series The Gentlemen is a spinoff of Ritchie’s crackling good crime comedy-drama feature film of the same name from 2020. However, don’t expect any cameos from Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Hugh Grant, or anyone else from the movie.

We’re still in the same world, i.e., an England in which lucrative cannabis labs operate under the estates of aristocrats who need the fat cash influx to keep running their monstrously large homes.

From that jumping point, the series introduces a whole new set of characters from a myriad of locales and backgrounds who have one thing in common: They’re all willing to do whatever it takes, whether it’s scheming and double-crossing or using fists, swords, knives, guns, etc., to eliminate the competition and or exact revenge.

Also, as you’d expect from the prolific and provocative filmmaker behind Snatch, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies, etc., The Gentlemen is filled with cheeky humour, sweeping camera movements, callbacks to previous plot developments and the occasional use of a graphic that spells out definitions and sometimes does some convenient math for us.

It’s a complex and layered story, but it’s also relatively easy to keep track of the various gangsters and high-society wolves in sheep’s clothing maneuvering to gain control of the cannabis market.

Theo James, fresh off his Emmy-nominated turn on The White Lotus, is perfectly cast as the leading-man-handsome and born-to-the-manor yet hardnosed Eddie Hornaman, a British Army captain in charge of a UN outpost who is summoned home because his father is dying. And when we say “home,” we mean an enormous estate, as Eddie’s dad is a Duke.

To the outrage of the oldest son, the coke-addled and entirely unreliable Freddy (Daniel Ings), the reading of the will reveals that dear old pops has skipped over Freddy and left everything, including his title and the run of the manor, to Eddie. He’s a duke now, and everyone calls him “your grace.” Nice!

No sooner has Eddie wrapped his mind around this development when he’s hit with two other surprises: (a) Freddy is $8 million in debt to a ruthless clan of drug-dealing gangsters, and (b) speaking of drugs, there’s a thriving marijuana plantation underneath the dairy farm. It’s one of a dozen such underground labs spread throughout England, all run by the stylish, droll and quite dangerous Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario), who rarely makes a move without consulting her father, the mob boss of mob bosses Bobby (the great Ray Winstone), who is serving a long prison sentence but has a cushy setup that puts to shame Paul Sorvino’s cell in Goodfellas.

For the run of the series, Eddie keeps talking about how he wants to separate from the mob and get out of the pot-growing business, but as the blood spills frequently and often in creative fashion, it turns out Eddie has a real knack for this sort of thing. At times, Eddie and Susie make for a formidable team, and there’s no denying the electric chemistry they share; just as often, they’re at odds, with each not trusting the other, and for good reason.

Even when we’re not spending screen time with the two leads, The Gentlemen never lags, as it boasts a fascinating array of supporting characters.

Giancarlo Esposito is Stanley Johnston, a meth kingpin who loves the finer things in life, from bespoke suits to million-dollar wine collections; think Gus Fring, only with a few extra zeros in his bank account.
Vinnie Jones is Geoff, the gamekeeper of Halstead Manor who knows all and sees all; he’s kind of like Carson from Downton Abbey, only with shotguns.

Michael Vu is the horticulturist Jimmy, who is high on his own supply 24/7, which leads to some really bad decisions.
We’re also introduced to Irish travellers, a Nazi sympathiser, a money-laundering fight promoter, a crazed and machete-wielding luxury car dealer, and let’s just say not everyone is getting out of this adventure alive.

There are times when The Gentlemen loses momentum, and we get a little impatient waiting for the gears to grind again, but thanks in large part to the sharp writing and stellar performances from Theo James, Kaya Scodelario, and the entire ensemble, this is a worthy addition to Guy Ritchie’s library of stylish and violent crime thrillers.


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Boluwatife Adesina is a media writer and the helmer of the Downtown Review page. He’s probably in a cinema near you.

About Author / Boluwatife Adesina

Boluwatife Adesina is a media writer and the helmer of the Downtown Review page. He’s probably in a cinema near you.

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