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)
- The Humor
- The Character Usage
- The Mystery/Politics
- The Connections
- The Presentation
- The Censorship of violence, for the most part
- The Acting
- The Excessive Cursing For Me
- Missing Some Action
- The Extended Ending
- Some Stereotypical Annoyances
- The Rapping Video
- Slow At Parts
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.
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