Gentlemen Come Calling In Quality

The Gentlemen Poster

            Have you ever wondered what the dry atmosphere of Downton Abbey would be like if presented in the form of a mafia movie?  Yeah me neither, but it is the thought that came to mind when I was watching this film today.  A trailer that was sort of lost on me, today’s work directed by Guy Ritchie had me a little undecided how this film would go.  Potentially a stuffy, slow, hard edged movie with lots of cursing and torture, I could only imagine what I would get, especially when another fan left in a rant 20 minutes into the film.  What was the end result?  Robbie K here to give you some insight as he checks out:

 

Movie:  The Gentleman (2020)

 

Director:

Guy Ritchie

Writers:

Guy Ritchie (screenplay by), Guy Ritchie (story by)

Stars:

Matthew McConaugheyCharlie HunnamMichelle Dockery

 

LIKES:

  • The Humor
  • The Character Usage
  • The Mystery/Politics
  • The Connections
  • The Presentation
  • The Censorship of violence, for the most part
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Excessive Cursing For Me
  • Missing Some Action
  • The Extended Ending
  • Some Stereotypical Annoyances
  • The Rapping Video
  • Slow At Parts

 

 

SUMMARY

 

When it comes to the British writing style, this reviewer always looks to the potential for balanced writing.  Sure enough, this is one of the times where the writing is truly representative of a masterpiece in multiple facets.  This tale contains some amazing humor to it, not so much in the form of slapstick, one liner filled form, but a much deeper levels that uses timing, setting, and wit to maximize the laughs.  It’s dry I’ll admit, but the humor goes so well with the plot at hand that it adds rather than distracts from the enriching plot that this film contains.  With this supporting component, the movie continues to get better in the way it balances so many things to make an engaging mafia tale.  First the character usage, the movie is filled with a lot of stars and they are utilized very well, with so many (including secondary characters) having a purpose and contribute to the film in a way or manner to make their inclusion worthy.  While it seems spotty at first the movie’s progression begins to start connecting all the players in the game, starting to unravel and help give pieces of the story without ever giving away the big mystery.  It’s this balance of connections with the mystery that for me was the biggest engaging piece to the movie, that teasing to see how deep the politics run always being that itch you can’t scratch.  Yet, for a movie about crime lords, you know politics is going to make an appearance and once more they impressed me with the presentation.  Again choppy, The Gentleman appealed to me because the politics had heat, tension, but were not so drawn out and convoluted to be boring, something not easily accomplished in this day and age for a movie.  Yet if that’s not interesting enough, the movie also manages to sneak in a more unique presentation, told through the imagination and sleuth of Hugh Grant’s character, who is filling the pieces with his evidence and theories to help piece the story together.  The genius for me is, the holes he has acts as the missing pieces for you to try and string together the ideas yourself before the big reveal.  You might also be concerned for violence, after all, the crime lords with this much power do not show the nicest attitudes to those that threaten them.  Fortunately, the movie manages to censor most of the extreme violence and torture that these movies can be famous for, and this little extra class did not take from the movie, but only added.  Finally, all of this is fantastically acted, with each major character executing their role in so many levels I could take another page to describe.  Let’s just say McConaughey has found a new favorite role for me, finally ditching the super sleazy for a role that is much more complete to show off his talents.  Hunnam as well was indeed a fantastic pillar character, filled with a level of emotional complexity that seems to be so monotone, but yet contains layers that unravel.  I did not find too many overacted moments and was very thrilled with seeing so many stars shine.

 

Yet, there are still some styles of this movie that did not quite hit me as hard as the others, at least in terms of liking it.   First of all the cursing.  Old record, I know, and given my own mouth sometimes it’s becoming less, but there are a few words used freely in this movie that were a bit excessive.  Part of the culture, great, but like in Django overuse of the word soon starts to become lazy and stale for this writer.  While I enjoyed much of the toned-down storytelling, I’m always partial to a bit more excitement to help spice up the mob war films.  A shoot out here or there could go a long way but the satire and humor in this film sort of dilutes the action that starts forming, before dropping back into the mincing tactics.  Anyway, looking at the character profiling, the film is both genius and frustrating for me in its generational portrayal, with the contenders for the crown. At the same time the stereotypical summaries of each generation are little overdramatic and extreme, leading to sort of annoying moments that weren’t the worst, but felt a little out of place (this is especially true for Henry Goulding’s character).  I’ll admit there are also some bloated moments in the film, but these are few and far between and as stated, a little swap out with some action could have helped with these moments, again few and far between.  The part that really stuck out for me was the rapping.  Kudos for the art behind it, the impressive speed at which they rap, and the dance stunts in the back, but that’s about all I’m going to say in terms of appropriate.  When the video first appears it sort of does not make sense, but thankfully the writing uses it as a good plot device to help make up for how forced and advertising it seems.  Like I said earlier, it’s a generational stereotype that was a bit annoying to watching and were probably the most annoying characters of the bunch, despite having some of the coolest moves.  Again, thank goodness for the writing making up for them.  Sadly, the other thing that was both funny, yet again excessive is the ending, a few fake out and extension that almost feel like last minute tag-ons that may or may not have been needed.

 

The VERDICT:

            To be honest, I was very surprised with how much I enjoyed this movie and how much the trailers did not ruin the experience for me.  British settings, humor, and styles of writing continue to prove successful in balancing a lot of balls and I’m super impressed with how much correlated together in this piece.  The drama, the mystery, the presentation, and the politics are all super well represented in this gang war, never getting so caught up in details to be boring, but not slighted to feel robbed of good development.  That unique presentation we talked about only further adds some fun edges to it, and works with the gaps to help keep you engrossed.  Finally, the actors really bring the characters to life and worthy of several awards with how well they bring these strange characters to some cool levels.  Yes, the writing is still a little overdone at times, there are some annoying moments/stereotypes to consider, and a few slow parts that could have been ironed out.  However, the balance of this movie and just fun, classy writing really make this one a worthy trip to watch in theater for performances, and a definite check in at home when you get the chance. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime:  8.0 (not as much action)

Movie Overall:  7.5 – 8.0

Welcome Back To The Manor

Downton Abbey Poster

            Television shows are an amazing display of storytelling that run for years and often last longer when done right.  PBS managed to hit one of those shows out of the park, with a lovely British display of class, poise, comedy, and drama for six seasons about a wealthy family and the manor they keep.  So many things coursed through this the drama, that it became a cult phenomenon and ended on quite a bang.  So a movie to further the tales of the Crawley family, in hopes to once more capture the charm and profit from the class of English society.  Robbie K back with the first review of the week as he takes a look at the film:

 

Movie: Downton Abbey (2019)

 

Director:

Michael Engler

Writers:

Julian Fellowes (characters), Julian Fellowes (screenplay by)

Stars:

Michelle DockeryMatthew GoodeTuppence Middleton

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Continues where the series left off
  • Nostalgic Moments brought back
  • Same Class and Charm
  • Funny and well balanced
  • The Acting
  • The Music

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Slow At First
  • A Few characters limited
  • A Few Story Plots Crammed In That Were Unnecessary

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

A television series takes adequate time to set things up and develops the characters well for us to fall into and invest time.  Fortunately, the movie manages to pick up where the series left off, including all the character transitions, decisions, and more.  It works, and manages to tell a new story while maintaining the traditions that made the series famous.  My friend and I both found nostalgic moments throughout the film, many of which were great to nod to as they adapted to the changing times that the manor was facing.  Yet despite the gap in air time, this film manages to find a way to make the class and charm fit well into the new dilemmas, addressing political issues from today but twisting it back into the classical English style.  Maintaining that quality was a wonderful representation, that manages to put the fresh coat of paint on the old place.  In addition, the movie manages to find ways to inject its drier humor, without being too forceful or untrue to itself.  Maggie Smith’s character in particular alongside her partner in crime made for the most entertaining, but there were several other moments that fit well. Really though, it’s the acting that makes this movie shine, with the cast reprising their roles and accomplishing all that was necessary to recreate the group one more time.  The cast is too big to hit everyone up, but let’s face it, this all-star group proved for many years that they can take tired plots and run with them and that is the case with this film.  As for the music, well the regal soundtrack is certain to illicit some strong emotions as the subtle cavalcade of instruments unite to once more bring aristocratic numbers to the scene and embrace the nobility at hand.

 

Yet, where the film does not succeed for me is in the pacing.  While I’ve always understood this show does not have the fastest pace, but at least it had bite size episodes to gradually introduce the drama and tackle the stories at hand.  In this film though, despite the quality it took a bit to take off and with it made it a little boring and hard to stay awake at times.  Once the pace kicked in though there were not too many limitations, as again they chose not to make the same plots but move on from the tale. Sadly, not every character managed to make the cross for a decent amount of time, lost to background stories or last-minute entries.  My friend is correct in that this was mainly the other characters had most of their qualms taken care of, but also I would have liked these classic characters to return in a little more style.  Finally, the other thing I did not quite enjoy was how many episodic plots were introduced in the movie.  On the positive it felt like a lot of episodes combined into a 2-hour period, but my friend and I agreed that some of these plots could have been shortened or dropped off altogether to allow for something else to move in.  Downton Abbey the movie seemed to lay groundwork for new things to arise from, but this closure seemed like it could have been better used in an additional season to really deliver the full potential that this series already laid long ago.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Returning to the abbey was a fantastic trip down the road of nostalgia and new, as the latest chapter in the Crawley residence comes in many classy forms.  The charm and wit of a time almost gone acts for a solid foundation and will pull everyone into the movie as you relive the magic.  Great acting, wonderful human, and most importantly the balance of humor and drama makes this movie a worthy addition to the legacy of the regal series. Sure, the pace is not quite as good given limitations to one showing, some of the characters are not as strong as they once were, and it was a little busy in the run time.  Despite this though, I recommend the film be enjoyed by all fans in the theater, while others will be wanting to hold off until home viewing. 

 

My Scores are:

 

Drama: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.5