This Is Hands Down the Weirdest Moment in a Guy Ritchie Movie

Mar 11, 2024

The Big Picture

Guy Ritchie revolutionized gangster movies by adding unique characters, twists, and humor to the genre in films like
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

The Gentlemen
showcases Ritchie’s self-awareness by breaking the fourth wall in a clever nod to his own filmmaking style.
The movie marked Ritchie’s return to his roots, paving the way for his continued success in creating distinct crime films.

While snappy, hyper-stylized gangster movies grew immensely popular in the 1990s thanks to the breakout success of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, writer/director Guy Ritchie managed to completely reinvent the genre through his unique perspective. With their idiosyncratic characters, inventive editing techniques, frequent bursts of action, and strange plot twists, Ritchie’s first two features Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels became some of the most influential features within the history of British crime cinema. Although there’s certainly a strong element of sincerity that makes Ritchie’s work entirely unique, he could never be accused of not being self-aware. In fact, a hilarious moment in the 2019 gangster thriller The Gentlemen showed Ritchie acknowledging his own style by breaking the fourth wall.

The Gentlemen Release Date December 3, 2019 Director Guy Ritchie Runtime 113 Writers Guy Ritchie , Ivan Atkinson , Marn Davies Production Company Miramax

What Is ‘The Gentlemen’ About?
Set within the illicit world of drug dealing across two continents, The Gentlemen centers around the Oklahoma-born cannabis baron Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) as he rises to the top of the criminal underworld. Despite coming from relatively humble origins, Pearson obtained a scholarship to study at Oxford University, where he expanded his childhood interest in selling marijuana into the basis of a potential criminal empire. While the film clearly shows an interest in examining how criminal syndicates develop and evolve, The Gentlemen succeeds because of Ritchie’s ability to write great characters. Instead of revisiting tired gangster movie tropes, The Gentlemen adds personality to the oddball figures involved in the drug trade.

The film’s inciting incident is Pearson’s snubbing of the Daily Tabloid editor Big Dave (Eddie Marsen), who takes the slight as a personal insult to his haughty reputation. In order to create a scandal around his new rival’s trade, Big Dave hires the idiosyncratic reporter Fletcher (Hugh Grant) to investigate how Pearson’s products led to the heroin addiction of a young girl, Laura (Eliot Sumner), the daughter of the highly respected Duke Presfield (Samuel West). The Gentlemen is told almost entirely through flashbacks, as Fletcher pursues Pearson’s right-hand man, Raymond Smith (Charlie Hunnam), for information about the empire’s activities. As with many of Ritchie’s best films, there are frequent non-sequiturs that divert the story’s attention to humorous subplots.

Although the investigation into Pearson’s connections to members of the British aristocracy and rivalries with different drug factions are certainly interesting, it’s the strong chemistry between Grant and Hunnam that makes The Gentlemen so entertaining. Instead of feeling like a convoluted mearch of interchangeable characters, The Gentlemen is able to deconstruct important expositional information entirely through the conversation between the two great actors. Grant once again shows his villainous side, adding a comic element to Fletcher that makes him both imminently watchable and completely detestable. Impressively, Hunnam opts for a more subdued performance that only stands out in comparison to the more eccentric members of the supporting cast.

Guy Ritchie Breaks the Fourth Wall in ‘The Gentlemen’

The Gentlemen features one of Ritchie’s most action-packed finales; in addition to Pearson’s extended conflict with the Chinese gangster “Dry Eye” (Henry Golding), Raymond’s new ally, Coach (Colin Farrell), and his underlings help ward off the threat of a squad of Russian mobsters. However, The Gentlemen ends by breaking the fourth wall, as Fletcher takes the transcripts of his recorded interviews with Raymond and synthesizes them into the pitch for a script about gangsters. In a sly nod to the production of The Gentlemen itself, Fletcher takes his proposals to the film’s distributor, Miramax. The bizarre notion is that Fletcher himself was only pressing Raymond for details in order to make his screenplay more amusing.

While it’s a hilarious in-joke that allowed Ritchie to satirize the chaotic nature of film production, the twist in The Gentlemen serves as a justification of why Ritchie uses his style. Although many of Ritchie’s films feature a haphazard, nonlinear narrative structure, this format is explained in The Gentlemen as the way in which Fletcher is interpreting Raymond’s experiences. It goes on to suggest that everything that the audience has seen is in some way an embellished version of what actually went down. Fletcher may have exaggerated some aspects to make the story more interesting, and Pearson may have lied about some facts and figures in order to keep his allies safe. Considering how many of Ritchie’s best films rely heavily on characters giving extended expositional monologues, it’s amusing that The Gentlemen itself is merely one interpretation of a specific event. In many ways, it’s a window into Ritchie’s creative audience that explains why he constructs stories the way that he does.

‘The Gentlemen’ Was a Return To Form for Guy Ritchie

While the film was tragically underseen, as it was released only months prior to the theatrical shutdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Gentlemen served as a way for Ritchie to return to his roots. Ritchie had flirted with helming major blockbusters, including two installments in the Sherlock Holmes series, the spy movie throwback The Man From U.N.C.L.E, and the underrated medieval epic King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. While he was able to make some surprisingly idiosyncratic choices within these tentpole projects, Ritchie’s remake of the Disney animated classic Aladdin was completely devoid of any of his unique sensibilities. Ritchie has never been an artist well-suited to play within preexisting universes, and The Gentlemen allowed him to create his own world from the ground up, and tell a story on his terms.

By returning to a style that felt similar to both Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, Ritchie kickstarted a new period of creative productivity with The Gentlemen. The film’s success served as evidence that viewers were interested in seeing old-fashioned crime movies with his signature style, and the subsequent years saw the release of his stone-hearted revenge thriller The Wrath of Man and the classic spy caper Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre. With a new television adaptation of The Gentlemen hitting Netflix soon, it’s safe to say that this peculiar gangster thriller may be the most consequential film in the latter half of Ritchie’s career.

The Gentlemen is available to rent on Prime Video.


Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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