‘The Gentlemen’ (2024) Review: Guy Ritchie’s Stylish Netflix Show Is Unputdownable


Guy Ritchie is one of the most influential directors in the crime drama genre. He has a very distinct and complicated way of telling his stories, and his visuals are so uniquely stylized that one can only dream of aping them but never succeed at emulating Ritchie’s level of finesse. With the exception of Swept Away, the man enjoyed a pretty solid run at the box office and received critical acclaim. But when he swung for the fences with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, it didn’t work out. And while a debacle of that scale usually relegates an artist to the proverbial “director’s jail,” Ritchie only increased his output and experimented with his technique and mastery over various genres. I was a little apprehensive about him returning to the small screen nearly two decades after Lock, Stock… because overseeing a show while working on so many theatrical productions seemed like a hectic undertaking. But after watching all eight episodes of The Gentlemen, I can say that he and his team have made one of the best comedy crime dramas of all time.

Guy Ritchie’s Netflix show The Gentlemen, is centered around Eddie Horniman, the younger son of the Duke of Halstead. His elder brother is Freddy, who is married to Tammy. He has a sister named Charlotte. And their mother is Lady Sabrina. All of them are more or less dependent on and attached to Halstead Castle, but Eddie isn’t, as he is seen happily working as a captain in the British Army. But when the Duke breathes his last, Eddie returns home to be with his family. Things take an ugly turn when it’s revealed that Eddie has inherited the biggest chunk of the Halstead estate instead of Freddy. To make matters worse, Freddy discloses that he is drowning in debt and that he was planning to use the inheritance money to pay some dangerous people back. Eddie is ready to help, but the issue is that they don’t have the kind of cash that Freddy needs. That’s when a solution arrives in the form of Susie Glass and the weed empire of Bobby Glass, which sucks Eddie into a world of crime.

Given that it’s a spin-off of the 2019 film by Guy Ritchie, also titled The Gentlemen, you’ll probably be wondering if you should watch the film to “understand” the show. It’s a good film, so you should watch it anyway. But if you want to watch it to draw connections between the film and the series, I am afraid you won’t find any. They are linked by their aesthetics, artistic choices, and the fact that both of them feature men who want to cut off their respective criminal ties but only end up getting seduced by them. So, if you want to watch the series without watching the film, you can do that and not really miss out on anything. However, since the movie is so great, I’ll recommend giving it a go. With that out of the way, let’s talk about the Netflix series. As mentioned before, the stories in Ritchie’s films tend to oscillate between timelines. They tend to fan out a lot, but by the end, he magically ties up all the loose ends. And if anything is left unattended, it’s purposeful. The show is no different. There are so many subplots that even thinking about them makes me dizzy. What baffles me, though, is the way the writers wrap them up while maintaining the theme of miscommunication and misinterpretation. It’s masterful.

Another integral aspect of Ritchie’s films is that they are kinetic as hell. It’s overwhelming and, in a weird way, makes his stuff so rewatchable because you are bound to miss something the first few times, but the viewing experience is so entertaining that you’ll be drawn back to it and discover new things. Stupidly enough, I was worried that if he did that over the course of 8 hours, it would get exhausting. But since Ritchie and his team are so smart and talented, they take the marathon-running approach instead of treating every episode like a 100-meter sprint. That allows you to really track the distinct character arcs of Eddie, Freddy, and Susie while enjoying the bite-sized issues they run into. I like the slight change in perspective to expand the world of The Gentlemen. While Mickey Pearson (played by Matthew McConaughey) was the one who was grabbing the estates from the royals to expand his weed business, Eddie Horniman is a royal whose estate is being grabbed for expanding the Glass weed empire. And through the myriad of approaches he takes to solve this issue, it shows that the time of the royals is over, and if they want to survive (or have some semblance of power), they have to shed their classism and embrace inclusivity.

The Gentlemen is probably the rare show that has somehow, miraculously, managed to work its way around the washed-out look that modern shows have, while also avoiding the compression issues that come with streaming platforms. I don’t know how, but since Guy Ritchie and his team have done the impossible, I think every other artist should get in touch with them so that I don’t have to watch another dull-looking frame for the rest of my life. I am told that the “bland look” is the result of an industry-wide trend, but you pick any frame from this show and tell me that it would’ve looked better if the colors didn’t pop and there was a white haze over the whole thing. You won’t because getting to feel the texture, the atmosphere, and the geography of a scene immerses you in the story, and boring visuals don’t let you do that. Much like most of Ritchie’s filmography, the show is very talkative. However, the purposeful framing, the costumes, the locales, the editing, the use of on-screen notes, the music, the occasional burst of action, and, of course, the dedicated performances from every single member of the cast make every single dialogue-heavy scene such a blast to watch. Also, the show is incredibly paced, and the tonal shifts between the wacky stuff and the soulful stuff are simply mesmerizing.

Talking about the acting in The Gentleman, my lord, what an immensely talented cast. Theo James has such a reserved sense of humor and an incredible screen presence. The MVP of the show is Kaya Scodelario. She is sharp, chilling, and devours every scene she is in. Daniel Ings is hilarious but in a sad way. He is like the Fredo Corleone to Theo’s Michael Corleone, if you know what I mean. Chanel Cresswell and Jasmine Blackborow are great. Vinnie Jones reunites with Guy Ritchie after 20 years and delivers his most tender performance yet. Joely Richardson is fantastic, as always. Without giving away spoilers, there’s a scene between Vinnie and Joely that made me teary-eyed. Michael Vu’s stoner act is so perfect that even if Guy Ritchie personally rings me up and tells me that he wasn’t consuming weed during filming, I won’t believe him. Giancarlo Esposito is playing yet another antagonist, and it’s truly wild that he has turned typecasting into a good thing. Peter Serafinowicz is tremendous in what can be called an extended cameo. Ray Winstone doesn’t have a lot of screen time, but he casts such a huge shadow that you can feel him hovering over all the characters in the show. Dar Salim has a sweet cameo. Guz Khan is amazing. Laurence O’Fuarain is riotous in the role of JP. And the list goes on. So, please keep an eye out for everyone who appears in the foreground of the show, but also observe what they do when they are out of focus and in the background. Everyone elevates the scene they are in such small ways that it makes me want to give them all the awards.

There are several ways to gauge a show’s quality, but the method that I have started to use is rewatchability. No, I’m not just talking about a series being good enough to make you re-watch the whole thing. I am talking about a show having such good scenes that you are forced to immediately rewind it and rewatch it. And I did that multiple times throughout The Gentlemen, especially the scene involving Hitler’s nuts. Which means that I highly recommend watching the show as soon as possible. No, I don’t want anyone to rush it so that Netflix gets the message that they should greenlight a second season of the show. If they were in the business of consistently producing quality entertainment, they would’ve done that already. Since they are in the business of commissioning good movies and shows and then canceling them when they don’t reach their arbitrary benchmarks, it’s pointless to appease them. The Gentlemen is a show that can be binged or slowly consumed over the course of a week or a few weeks. Just make sure you are in the right headspace and have the time to properly appreciate the show, because that’s what Guy Ritchie and his team deserve.

- Advertisement -
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

Must Read

DMT Guide

More Like This