Saturday, March 09, 2024


Guy Ritchie comes to our TV screens with a series that is a highly satisfying greatest hits mash-up of his mockney gangster films, like LOCK, STOCK to SNATCH. All the classic Ritchie tropes are here. Colourful East End gangsters in well-cut tweed. Thick as mince posh boys snorting coke getting rinsed by aforementioned gangsters. A cool, smart, stunning woman at the  centre of it all. Vinnie Jones in a cameo role. Illegal boxing. Travellers. Ganga farms on country estates. And a handsome protagonist who spends most of his time sorting out other people's bullshit. Oh and let's not forget the plotting - so complex, so full of double-crosses - and yet all resolving beautifully in the final act.

The good news is that while this show is set in the same world as Ritchie's feature film of the same name, you don't have to have watched that to enjoy the TV show. It opens cold establishing the bona fides of our hero, Eddie Horniman. He's a British soldier serving with UN Peacekeepers - and his skill for refined violence and defraying anger are going to come in handy. Eddie is played with suave cool by Theo James, of White Lotus season two fame. James treats this is a James Bond audition and is highly convincing in the role. 

The action begins when Eddie's father dies, leaving his title and estate to Eddie rather than his feckless big brother Freddy. Turns out daddy was leasing out the estate to Bobby Glass (Ray Winstone) to grow industrial quantities of ganga, managed by Bobby's daughter Suzy (Kaya Scodelario). Oh, and Freddy is in hock to some mean Liverpudlian cocaine-dealers who funded his drug-induced gambling binge.  Meanwhile, Giancarlo Esposito plays a mega rich American dealer who is keen to take over the business, and Eddie just wants to clear his brother's debts and get his estate back.  The series arc is effectively the process of Eddie discovering that as much as he says he wants out, he's actually pretty good at being a gangster. 

I really enjoyed this show. The lavish country house settings are beautifully filmed. The characters are compelling, the costumes stunning and the music propels the action scenes. Ritchie knows exactly what he's doing with this material, and while the the tropes are familiar, it still felt fresh and I was genuinely struggling to figure out how it would all resolve. I absolutely loved the final final final twist and really hope we get a second season.

Of the performances, Daniel Ings is the break-out star, with an instantly iconic chicken scene - you'll know what I mean when you see it - at the end of the first episode. I was also pleasantly surprised to see Vinnie Jones deliver a modulated performance, rather than just playing a pastiche of his bad boy football persona. I can't believe I am saying this, but it's Jones who delivers the one genuinely emotional scene in the whole series. Kudos to him.

THE GENTLEMEN is an eight episode miniseries available on Netflix.

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