Guy Ritchie’s latest British gangster yarn, “The Gentlemen,” opens with a bartender pulling a beer tap printed with a logo reading: “Gritchie’s English Lore.” It’s oh-so-appropriate branding for this return to roots for Ritchie, who burst onto the scene in the late ’90s with the rollicking London crime flick “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” With “The Gentlemen,” co-written with Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies, Ritchie invites the audience to belly up to his bar for a full pint of his signature brew: a wordy, bloody, Cockney-accented blend of colorful criminals. As you might expect, despite the title, these gentlemen aren’t gentlemanly in the least.
This time, Ritchie expands his horizons to England’s upper crust (the “toffs,” if you will). The lords and ladies are a means to an end for the protagonist, Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), an American Rhodes scholar-turned-weed dealer who has worked out a deal with the landed gentry. They have the land he needs for his grow operation; he has the money they need to sustain their titled lifestyles. Now Mickey wants to get out of the game, and he’s trying to sell his organization to the highest bidder. Will it be the fey Jewish billionaire Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong) or the aggressive young Chinese upstart Dry Eye (Henry Golding)?