TV Review – The Gentlemen

Guy Ritchie’s 2019 crime-comedy-thriller The Gentlemen was a long awaited, and much welcomed, return to the Cockney-accented, foul-mouthed, absurdly violent criminal underworlds that his early filmography showcased and led to his rising success as one of the most exciting filmmakers of the early 2000s.

And while it wasn’t obvious at the time of the film’s release, a world built on the foundations of a worldwide marijuana dealing empire with a crazy number of moving parts to keep the Ganja cogs turning would absolutely serve for a cavalcade of insane stories and ridiculous characters to clash in the dynamic way that only a filmmaker like Guy Ritchie could bring to life.

Thus, The Gentlemen, an 8-part series hitting Netflix this week, expands on Ritchie’s world in a way that harnesses the strengths of his work that audiences love, with a few little Easter eggs for die-hard fans, with a fresh, more mature look at the darkness of the criminal underworlds he’s made so exciting for the last 25 years.

Returning to his family manor to visit his dying father, U.N. soldier, Eddie Halstead (Theo James, The White Lotus) learns that their estate is housing a multi-million-pound secret – an underground marijuana den run by Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario), who is running this empire while her father, Bobby (Ray Winstone) serves a comfortable 14-year prison sentence.

The last thing Eddie wants is to get entangled with the criminals his father associated with, but getting the Glass family to uproot their cash cow is a tougher ask than anticipated, and his descent into the underworld, along with his coked-up brother, Freddy (Daniel Ings), has Eddie running into God-fearing gun-toters, corrupt boxing managers, caravan travelling gypsies, and an incredibly secretive, but wealthy prospect (Giancarlo Esposito) who wants to buy the manor from the Halstead’s.

With all the style and slickness imaginable, Ritchie’s deep dive into his brand-new crime story is cool. It’s very cool. The way Ritchie and his team of directors on this series dynamically throw the camera around, in both high-stakes tension-filled moments and thrilling shootouts or punch-ups, creates this glorifying atmosphere that makes the underworld so enticing. Gun mounted cameras, fast-moving wide-lensed shots capturing the scale of the manor, extreme close-ups of drug fuelled shenanigans, and the slick veneer of fast cars and flashy suits visually bring to life an energy that propels the series along.

The episodic nature of television then allows Ritchie to play around in the different parts of this world, with the eclectic array of wild characters, for a little longer than he normally would within a 2-hour film runtime. For the first few episodes of The Gentlemen, Eddie interacts with different groups of gangs and mobs, each group bringing a new dynamic and feeling to the show and lending a healthy amount of variety to the story without losing the throughline tone. Then, in classic Guy Ritchie fashion, the twists, turns, and betrayals that bring all the gangs together is an exciting on-ramp towards the final episodes.

Completely embodying the slick, cool style of the show is Theo James, who’s posh-natured Eddie acts as such an interesting ‘fish out of water’ into the criminal empire he’s trying to push away. James’ performances over the last few years, specifically in shows like The White Lotus and The Time Traveller’s Wife, are showcasing his strengths as a dramatic actor, but in The Gentlemen, he gets to showcase the drama, while having a bit of cheeky, Cockney fun at the same time, a necessity for a show that is as tongue-in-cheek as this.

Acting as Eddie’s off-sider, and arguably the real button-pusher of the series is the brilliant performance from Kaya Scodelario as Susie Glass. Cool, calculated, and taking no bullshit, Susie and Kaya are quite reminiscent of the powerhouse performance from Michelle Dockery as Rosalind in the film version. Along with a strong collection of actors, including genre legends Ray Winstone and Vinnie Jones, Ritchie once again strikes absolute gold with his cast.

As much as seeing other Guy Ritchie hits like Lock, Stock or Snatch get the expanded story treatment on our television screens would be amazing, The Gentlemen proves itself in spades as the logical choice to dive deeper into a world of drugs, crass language, bloody violence, and eccentric characters. With all the dynamic workings of Ritchie’s directing and writing prowess on display, and solid performances all around, The Gentlemen is a binge-worthy descent into the chaos of the criminal underworld.

All 8 episode of The Gentlemen will be available to stream on Netflix from March 7.

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Nick L'Barrow
Nick L'Barrow
Nick is a Brisbane-based film/TV reviewer. He gained his following starting with his 60 second video reviews of all the latest releases on Instagram (@nicksflicksfix), before launching a monthly podcast with Peter Gray called Monthly Movie Marathon. Nick contributes to Novastream with interviews and reviews for the latest blockbusters.

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