Movie Review: The Gentlemen


Mickey Pearson pulls a gun in Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen. And also, don’t EVER mess with Matthew McConaughey! (Source: Cinema Blend)

Fresh from directing the live-action version of Aladdin, writer-director Guy Ritchie returns to his roots of adult R-rated crime-thrillers. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch are two from his filmography that have become smash hits in the UK and cult classics in North America. Those films showcase Ritchie as “The British Tarantino”, with his dark wit and unexpected violence. The Gentlemen, his latest film that received modest box-office returns in the U.S., definitely deserves its R-rating, which is laden with profanity, graphic violence, and comedy.

Born in poverty in Texas, Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) owns the biggest marijuana empire in London while attending Oxford University. If anyone crosses the line, Mickey might put a bullet in their skull. He decides to sell his business to live a happy life with his wife Rosalind (Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery, who replaced Kate Beckinsale days after shooting began). This causes a chain of events: from a group of gangsters attempting to get a piece of him to a flamboyant Cockney private detective named Fletcher (a scene-stealing Hugh Grant) investigating the entire situation, typed as a screenplay.

There is plenty to like in Ritchie’s return to adult comic-thrillers. There is enough tension to keep the film afloat. However, the razor-sharp wit and lightning-fast pacing of Ritchie’s writing and directing is what makes The Gentlemen all the more worth it. 

The all-star cast, that also includes Colin Farrell, Henry Golding, and Jeremy Strong, has pitch-perfect timing with humor and being badass. McConaughey (who refuses to play roles with any accent other than his native Texas twang) gives enough suave energy wearing a variety of suits and showing off his violent nature. Charlie Hunnam, who worked with Ritchie in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, has never been better playing Mickey’s right-handed man who does Fletcher a favor of pitching his script. Dockery’s Rosalind is easily the opposite of Lady Mary, who never looked more badass than holding a tiny golden pistol. This movie also serves as a good audition for Golding to potentially be the next James Bond.

The biggest drawback is the conclusion being a mess. Nevertheless, The Gentlemen still has twists, turns, and plenty of dark humor. The constant racial slurs might not be for everyone’s liking, which is understandable. But–there is nothing more than having a good time with a new release so early in the year. I have a feeling this is going to gain a cult following for years to come.


Movie Review: The Lost City of Z


Jackson Teller and Cedric Diggory head into the Amazon to find The Lost City of Z. (Source: Mercury News)

Director James Gray (We Own the Night, The Immigrant) is becoming the new classical filmmaker. Along with cinematographer Darius Khondji, The Lost City of Z (or “Zed” if you are not from America) pays tribute to films by David Lean, Werner Herzog, and Steven Spielberg. Filmed in 35 mm film, every shot feels like a painting in motion. At 141 minutes, I wish this movie would have been longer.

This is a stirring epic following the true story of British war hero Percival Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) going on an expedition to the Amazon to find a lost civilization that once had gold. Along with Corporal Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson) among others, they must face the biggest challenges the uncharted territory has to offer. Humidity, bugs, piranhas, skin infections, diseases, and so on. Once Fawcett discovers some symbols and artifacts deep in the jungle, he returns to the Royal Geographic Society in London to prove his case. He would go back every now and then to find the tribe. Are they cannibals? Or are they equal to everyone else?

Despite his children not recognizing him when he returns from the Amazon, he stills thinks about them and his wife Nina (Sienna Miller, known for playing the archetype of the loving mother and wife) supporting him every step of the way. “I know this is a sacrifice for all of us, but it will be worth it,” he says before he leaves for the Amazon.

In one scene, he is talking in front of the court after his first discovery of the Amazon. He shows the artifacts as well as a document, written by one of the conquistadors, about the lost city of Z. All this leads to his disappearance in 1925 where hundreds of people have searched for him. Hunnam’s portrayal of Fawcett as a courageous explorer and a loving father and husband is the finest moment of his career.

As Costin, Pattinson is almost unrecognizable with the beard. But—his wit the movie provides is a big welcome. Miller’s Nina is more than the typical mother and wife. Not only does she take care of her children, she also supports her husband and his expedition. Tom Holland’s Jack provides some of the film’s most powerful moments in the third act when he accepts to go with his father to try finding the city once and for all. Gray’s marvelous direction and Christopher Spelman’s luscious score makes for one sweeping journey of familial sacrifices.

To quote Richard Roeper: “Warning: If you and I are on a flight someday in the near future and I see you watching The Lost City of Z on a handheld device, I’m might snatch that thing out of your hands.”

Yeah…it’s that good!