‘The Gentlemen’ series review: This Guy Ritchie spin-off is stylish and senseless

Though beautifully dressed with extraordinarily erudite turns of phrase, this tale of toffs turning drug lords is rather boring

Updated - March 14, 2024 01:07 pm IST

Published - March 14, 2024 12:37 pm IST

Kaya Scodelario, left, and Theo James from the Netflix series “The Gentlemen”

Kaya Scodelario, left, and Theo James from the Netflix series “The Gentlemen” | Photo Credit: AP

Guy Ritchie’s 2019 film, The Gentlemen, featured Mickey Pearson, played by Matthew McConaughey, using stately English homes to run his weed empire. The impoverished aristocrats used the rent for the upkeep of their historical homes. The latest eight-episode Netflix series, created by Ritchie, is inspired by the movie.

Eddie (Theo James) is a brave soldier with the UN Peacekeeping Force solving disputes involving sheep on the Syrian border, when the family lawyer, Ahmed Iqbal (Ranjit Krishnamma), comes to tell him that his father, the Duke of Halstead (Edward Fox), is gravely ill.

Eddie returns home to England and after the Duke’s death is shocked to learn that he (Eddie) has been named successor to the title and land. Freddie (Daniel Ings), Eddie’s elder brother, who should have inherited, is too cocaine-addled to be reliable. Though Freddie throws a mini-tantrum at being passed over, he soon calms down and tells Eddie the true reason for his distress.

Theo James in a scene from the Netflix series “The Gentlemen”

Theo James in a scene from the Netflix series “The Gentlemen” | Photo Credit: AP

He apparently owes an evil Scouser, Tommy Dixon (Peter Serafinowicz), 8 million pounds. There is some mention of Sticky Pete (Joshua McGuire) and his money-making schemes. Just as Eddie is grappling with this seemingly insurmountable problem, Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario) walks in.

Susie tells Eddie some home truths, chief among them being that her father, Bobby Glass (Ray Winstone), presently in jail, was using the manor grounds to grow cannabis, paying an annual rent of 5 million pounds to Eddie’s father.

While her father is in jail, Susie runs his business empire and meets the present duke to ensure the agreement still holds. Eddie would like to get Halstead Manor free of Glass’ clutches but also needs the criminals to extricate Freddie from his troubles.

The Gentlemen Season 1 (English)
Creator: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Theo James, Kaya Scodelario, Daniel Ings, Joely Richardson, Giancarlo Esposito, Peter Serafinowicz, Vinnie Jones
Episodes: 8
Runtime: 61 to 41 minutes
Storyline: Upon the death of his father, a youngster inherits a title, an estate and unsavoury business associates

Over eight episodes, Eddie tries various deals and counter deals to get out all the while meeting a colourful cast of characters. All Ritchie trademarks are present — from the sudden shocking violence and jolly pop songs to wildly eccentric characters, wry, deprecating English humour, boxing, and hand-written subtitles in yellow to bring the audience up to speed.

However, despite these enjoyable characteristics, The Gentlemen is criminally dull and going through the eight episodes is a drag. All the sharp edits and posh, poncy language cannot gloss over the glaring plot holes. For instance, for such a well-run drug empire, why is Jimmy (Michael Vu), the chief weed grower, sent alone with a van full of products to make the drop? Everyone seems to be playing gangsters — very well-dressed and well-spoken ones at that. As there is no chemistry between Eddie and Susie, we fail to be invested in them.

The Gentlemen is all surface shine with no way into the different characters’ inner lives. Eddie’s mum, Lady Sabrina (Joely Richardson), is first presented as vague, but she knows of her husband’s deal with the devil and is worried about it corrupting her family. The groundskeeper, Geoffrey (Vinnie Jones), rescues all kinds of animals including a hedgehog, is left Luna, the family Labrador, by his Grace, and also has a specific set of skills.

Giancarlo Esposito from the Netflix series “The Gentlemen”

Giancarlo Esposito from the Netflix series “The Gentlemen” | Photo Credit: AP

The aristos, from Bassington (Freddie Fox), an actor with an ugly secret to Princess Rosanne (Gaia Weiss), 11th in line to the Belgian throne swan around. The other side has its stock characters too, such as Glass Sr., with his fancy chef in prison; American billionaire Stanley Johnston (Giancarlo Esposito) — with a ‘T’; a double crossing distributor, Florian de Groot (Kristofer Hivju); the traveller family head JP (Laurence O’Fuarain), who uses statues of Mother Mary for unholy purposes; the Bible-thumping Gospel Dixon (Pearce Quigley); Toni Blair (Cameron Cook), the Albanian with a fondness for supercars and the former British Prime Minister; and Mercy (Martha Millan) dealing in cars and Colombian coke.

Siblings form a key part of The Gentlemen. No matter how infuriating Freddie is, Eddie or Edwina as he is sometimes fondly called, always bails him out. Charly (Jasmine Blackborow), Eddie and Freddie’s sister, who is away studying at university according to the stipulations of her father’s will, is also close to her brothers. Susie’s brother, Jack (Harry Goodwins), is a professional boxer and inspires total loyalty from Susie who has been caring for him since her mum died when she was 10.

All these colourful characters, no matter how well dressed or how they find themselves in increasingly hectic situations, do not translate to an engaging show.

The Gentlemen is streaming on Netflix

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