The Gentlemen glamorizes the old ways. Proper gangsters, dealing pot, not heroin, using polite forcefulness over aggression.
The adults in the room have control, staying underground. The kids? They film their crimes and upload footage to the internet. The Gentlemen’s shysters aren’t the drug kingpins, rather greedy foreigners, movie moguls, and unscrupulous media. It’s a film composing modern Britain by way of Brexit, where these two lines represent preserving the old ways and rejecting the new.
No one in The Gentlemen is a hero though. Matthew McConaughey stars as a marijuana grower, looking to get out the business before legalization. A simple transaction, were it not for those who corrupt an “honest” deal. McConaughey and his goons all dress sharply in vintage suits, stuck in time against an era of mobile phones, electronics, and brash youngsters. He stands out, prim, proper, if divesting himself from the illegalities. It’s all justified in The Gentlemen. There’s a respectable way to do things; McConaughey’s venture is the last of its kind.
The Gentlemen feels dirty, even disingenuous
The Gentlemen feels dirty, even disingenuous
In a sense, The Gentlemen is mournful of times past. It’s a film wondering how (or even why) gangster movies transformed into carnage-addicted action spectacles; The Gentleman has little to no real outbursts, and few bullets exchanged (relatively, of course). There’s an uncomfortable calmness under the brutish if delectably classy dialog. Ingrained expectations say to expect bloodshed. Every character is on edge, waiting for gunfire. But they talk, work things out, with threats disguised as pleasantries.
It’s certainly possible to like these characters, even the crudest among them. Hugh Grant’s caricature of a shady tabloid writer isn’t unfair, just ridiculous and entertaining. Arrogance is given proper payoff too. And Charlie Hunnam’s impossibly tranquil second-in-command gives The Gentlemen a purity.
Yet The Gentlemen doesn’t deliver on consequence. It’s too stubborn in its righteousness, acting like there is a right way for underground crime to operate, and the next generation would do well to learn. There’s a visual contrast drawn with McConaughey framed by wealth and privilege (his entire scheme exploits mansion-dwellers) against the modern heroin addicts living in squalor.
The insinuation is that done right, no one gets harmed other than trust fund recipients. Those cocky 20-somethings raised on Pacino’s Scarface and Michael Bay flicks though, they lack the chic and cooler heads. Media failed them, made killing cool and morality a sissy thing. The Gentlemen feels dirty, even disingenuous then. Ritchie’s story creates two sides, neither ethically pure, but decides for the audience which is virtuous.
Passable digital video finds enough detail in the cinematography. Sharpness isn’t high, more akin to the vintage cinema The Gentlemen yearns for. Still, aerials and exteriors excel in bringing out the British skyline. Facial definition sustains in mid and close shots. Consistency doesn’t pose a problem.
Universal’s disc is clean too, other than a noisy moment with Michelle Dockery. The green wall behind her gives in to artifacts, the only genuine concern. Other brushes with bright color fare well, including an early visit to an underground pot stash, baked in purple light. Given the palette leans toward a reserved approach, that saturation burst is an anomaly. Regardless, it’s attractive, unarguably dense in its overcast aesthetic, with some brilliant woodwork lining many interiors. Those browns shine.
Subtle with the HDR, contrast holds out until truly needed. It’s still appealing when strengthening light sources, but truly picks up when reflecting sunlight through a wine glass or when the story needs an uptick in intensity. Black levels never give in, spectacular when Hugh Grant first appears in the shadows. Balance is superb, and well utilized.
Atmos rarely factors in. The Gentlemen isn’t a movie that calls for much use. Some gunshots swing through the rears. Ambiance plays well inside a car shop. Forget the height channels, but The Gentlemen doesn’t give them anything to do.
The soundtrack demonstrates range, throbbing deeply. A few guns take a dip in the low-end, but “few” is the key word.
For most, even advertising these as bonus features would be embarrassing. Two montages pick a few lines from the movie, with an absurdly short 90 second EPK runs through the production following. Then, a photo gallery.
Although covered by slick dialog, The Gentlemen draws too strict a line between heroes and villains when no one in this story is free of guilt.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 39 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: