Director Guy Ritchie is up to his familiar style again with messy, although sometimes entertaining, results. With “The Gentlemen,” its screenplay by Ritchie from a story by Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies, he is fortunate to at least have a very watchable cast. But one can grow tired of the smart-assed dialogue and the intricate plotting involving obnoxious characters and violent action. This is a film primed for Ritchie devotees who revel in his stuff. It was produced by—are you ready?—Miramax. (See Search for the review of Ritchie’s much better 1998 “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”)

Hugh Grant, playing against his usual suave screen image, is Fletcher, a nasty, scruffy private-eye writer who has a screenplay titled “Bush.” The gimmick here is that the screenplay is all about the real-life gangsters he has observed in the drug trade. The script, with blackmail as its aim, is illustrated throughout by the real-life drug battles. The film within a film approach gets complex as the guts of the story unfold, lives are snuffed out and Ritchie’s tale of violence and woe accelerates.

Matthew McConaughey has a showy role as Mickey Pearson, an American involved in British crime. Charlie Hunnam plays Ray, Pearson’s drug-trade aide. Pearson, who has a smart, stylish looking and equally ruthless wife, Rosalind, played accordingly by Michelle Dockery, would like to sell his drug business for enough loot with which to retire.

The film has consistently strong visuals, including a huge underground layout for growing marijuana—quite a site and the envy of those who would like to rob it or buy it at a relative bargain. Other cast members include Colin Farrell, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan, Jason Wong, Henry Golding and Tom Wu.

“The Gentlemen” is rife with killings. One would-be escapee goes out a window to splatter on the ground. There is a frozen head in a small freezer. Another frozen body is suspended in a large freezer. Blood is splattered into a beer in a pub. Guys are brutally battered. Rosalind is handy with a pistol that doubles as a paperweight. You get the idea.

The busy mayhem, loaded with action and peopled by a collection of hoods who meet assorted fates in a bevy of realistic locations, provides a picture of collective sleaze and muscles, with heavily accented dialogue that on occasion can be in-your-face funny. Is this your particular cup of crime? A STX Films release. Reviewed January 24, 2020.

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