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The Gentlemen review – a daft Guy Ritchie story, spattered with blood
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The Gentlemen review – a daft Guy Ritchie story, spattered with blood

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This new series, The Gentlemen, bears the same name as the 2019 film directed by Guy Ritchie and shares a similar storyline. However, like the TV series Mr & Mrs Smith, it can be enjoyed without having watched the original movie.

The main characters in The Gentlemen are quickly introduced. Eddie Halstead (played by Theo James), a respectable and honorable military officer, is abruptly forced out of his beloved army lifestyle to inherit his family’s ancestral estate and become a duke following his father’s unexpected passing. As the second son, Eddie was not anticipating this responsibility. His older brother, Freddy (played by Daniel Ings), was even more caught off guard. However, their father’s will is clear and definitive.

One would assume that Freddy’s tendencies as a habitual gambler and overall liability would have raised awareness to the potential of their father abandoning the strict business succession tradition. However, it appears that their parents’ choice to give them matching names is not to be questioned, as it is a minor detail.

Freddy’s main problem is being in debt due to bad investments and a cocaine supplier he met while in recovery. The individuals he owes money to happen to be from Liverpool and often wear tracksuits. It appears that Ritchie is attempting to address accusations of racism in the film by portraying only northern characters as the villains, as opposed to the initial depiction of white marijuana dealers being portrayed as “cheeky” and Asian heroin dealers being seen as destructive. The overall intensity of the film has been lessened and the only threat now comes from the northerners. “They’re threatening to violently harm me!” Freddy exclaims to Eddie. “Which would ultimately result in death, just so you know! I checked.”

Eddie is in need of £8m by the end of the week. However, selling the family’s Gainsboroughs art collection would take too long. It seems that Eddie’s brother Freddie might meet an unfortunate end. But, there is a possibility of having £2m in cash from an illegal cannabis operation run by a local crime family, who have been paying the previous duke rent and a portion of the profits. This arrangement has been going smoothly for years. Despite the situation, what is the right course of action for a well-respected young duke to take?

And with that, the arrival of Susie Glass (played by Kaya Scodelario), who takes over the cannabis business while the patriarch Bobby (Ray Winstone) is incarcerated, the story begins. Susie has connections in the criminal world and knowledge of its workings, while Eddie brings bravery and Freddy adds to the madness. This is typical of a Ritchie crime caper, which is all the better for it. Vinnie Jones also makes an appearance as the gamekeeper and loyal follower Geoff.

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There are many deals, including double-deals, and plenty of violent scenes in both slow and fast motion. There is also a lot of comedic business that continues for too long (such as the ongoing chicken suit bit). There are bloody fights and deaths, some anticipated and some unexpected. Characters with significant roles come and go, like The Gospel, Sticky Pete, and the unlucky Jethro. There are also individuals tasked with cleaning up and bundles of cash that seem too immaculately organized. Small stories lead to big ones, and big stories lead to even more plot twists, but the overall experience is enjoyable enough that missing some of the finer points won’t impact your enjoyment.

A slowly developing storyline is also present in the form of a sophisticated and wealthy American named Stanley Johnston. It is emphasized that his name has a “T” every time it is said, perhaps hinting at a satirical tone. The character, portrayed by Giancarlo Esposito (known for his role as Gus Fring in Breaking Bad), is interested in purchasing the Halstead home. However, his true intention may be to use it for his meth empire rather than his claimed interest in architecture. This is sure to cause trouble.

Everything is as it should be, both in terms of story and style. One could view it as a reflection on societal conflict and the endless susceptibility of humans when faced with incredible sums of money. Alternatively, it could be seen as a collection of absurd tales interspersed with violence for the purpose of entertainment. It’s essentially a less compelling version of a Ritchie film on television. If you’re a fan of his work, you may enjoy watching it. However, if you’re not, there are plenty of other options available.

Source: theguardian.com