The Gentlemen review: Guy Ritchie’s cocktail of ultra-violence and geezer gags is preposterously entertaining

Television: Director Guy Ritchie plays all the hits in his first foray into TV and a remake of a largely forgotten 2019 film

Theo James in The Gentlemen.

Guy Ritchie knows what he likes – and what he likes are toughs and toffs becoming entangled in ludicrous capers invariably involving gratuitous violence and rib-tickling anarchy. Holding true to those guiding principles, the director plays all the hits in his ridiculously enjoyable new Netflix series – his first foray into TV and a remake of a largely forgotten 2019 film.

The Gentlemen (Netflix from Thursday, March 7th) is a riot from the outset, piled high with all the signatures for which Ritchie became synonymous back in the 1990s with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. There are idiot aristocrats, Merseyside criminals with a sideline in evangelical Christianity and Vinnie Jones playing a soulful groundskeeper who never leaves home without a huge shotgun. It’s Richie karaoke and it is preposterously entertaining.

Nobody comes to Guy Ritchie expecting subtlety, and The Gentlemen paints with a broad brush. White Lotus’s Theo James is Eddie Horniman, a British army soldier serving with the UN when his megabucks father takes ill back on the family’s vast country estate. He returns home just before his father expires – fully expecting the dynastic fortune will pass to his wastrel older brother Freddy (Daniel Ings, channelling all four members of Mumford and Sons).

Instead, the loot goes to the more level-headed Eddie. Freddy is furious at being passed over. He’s also terrified. And with good reason: he is in hock for millions to a Liverpool drugs gang who believe they are doing the Lord’s work flogging narcotics and wiping out their enemies. Without his inheritance, he’s a dead man walking.


Eddie has a solution: sell the estate and pay off Freddy’s debts. But unbeknown to him, his father has been renting out the land to a local cannabis cartel led by Ray Winstone’s Bobby Glass. Flog the property, and the weed goes up in smoke – as Bobby’s daughter and representative on earth, Susie (Kaya Scodelario), tells Eddie.

Chaos soon engulfs the family as Eddie tries to rescue the hapless Hornimans from their life-threatening stand-off with the born-again Scousers while keeping the Glass gang onside and the unpredictable Freddy on a leash. There is also a memorable scene involving a man dressed as a dancing chicken – absurd until its shocking twist.

What it all boils down to is stupid people behaving stupidly. But Ritchie tells the story with glee and irreverence, and his mix of ultra-violence and geezer-ish gags remains a singular calling card. The Gentlemen is a first-rank posho pile-up and a show so binge-able that an active effort will be required to stop watching.