Updated: Jan 27
With a Guy Ritchie movie what you see is pretty much what you get. Slick, stylised violence peppered with smart throwaway lines; blatant nods to his mentor Quentin Tarantino, but still failing miserably to write a strong role for women. Yes, it's brash, crowd pleasing nonsense, but damn it Ritchie can tell a cracking good yarn. It's a familiar storyline but quite comforting; not unlike slipping on a comfortable old jacket.
Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) operates a string of lucrative hash farms. Wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery) has her own business and wants hubby to go straight. So Mickey intends to sell his business for a cool £500 million. Smooth talking associate Matthew (Jeremy Strong) is first in line, but certain he can get it for less. Local mobster Dry Eye (Henry Golding) also comes in with a rival offer. Meanwhile, news magnate Big Dave (Eddie Marsan) is desperate for dirt on Mickey; so instructs private eye Fletcher (Hugh Grant) to do his very worst. Mickey's assistant Ray (Charlie Hunnam) is soon approached by Fletcher with a proposition; but what exactly has he got on Mickey?
A surprisingly complex plot maintains clarity as the customary set pieces click into action. But we have been here many times before, and the film makes no attempt to conceal the fact. Scenes have unashamedly been lifted from Pulp Fiction, although many would argue Tarantino did exactly the same thing it's the lack of subtlety that continually grates. Rosalind is a decent stab at a stronger female character but quickly descends back to type. Hugh Grant, sporting shades and a goatee adopts a pseudo Michael Caine persona and frankly steals the show. McConaughey didn't share a scene with him yet Grant still emerges as the star of the film; a delightfully sardonic performance is head and shoulders above a talented cast. Running a distant second for the cigar is Colin Farrell who delivers a likeable cameo as Coach, a streetwise boxing club owner who tries to avoid doing favours for people.
Repetition still nags at an otherwise entertaining film. Guy Ritchie's preferred genre is obvious and will return to his comfort zone at every opportunity. But it proves he has only one idea in his head, which in all fairness is faultlessly executed. But how much longer can he go on making the same film?