The Gentlemen on Netflix review: guns, geezers and a weird obsession with aristos – this is peak Guy Ritchie

What makes a Guy Ritchie production a Guy Ritchie production? Cockneys, definitely. Big guns and flashy cars, check. A weird obsession with posh people. Drugs? Lots and lots of drugs...

Going by those parameters, The Gentlemen is the essence of Guy Ritchie; boiled down, distilled, pure Ritchie. It comes four years after his film same name, and the general premise has not changed at all (even if the stars have): what if a really rich English aristocrat became entangled in the drugs business?

The really rich aristocrat in this instance is Edward, played by Theo James, fresh from the White Lotus S2 and channelling a painful-looking stiff upper lip. He’s a professional soldier (this will come in handy later) who inherits the ancestral country estate when his father dies.

Next thing, the immaculately dressed Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario, making a welcome return to the small screen) shows up to explain that dear old dad was keeping the lights on by renting out his cattle shed to drug dealers. Long story short, Edward is also the reluctant heir not just to a big country pile, but to a gigantic weed empire too.

This is the jumping-off point for a truly insane eight episodes of drug-related shenanigans, as Edward tries to get the drug dealers off his estate, while at the same time leaning on them for support in dealing with his wayward older brother Freddie (a manic Daniel Ings), who has a passion for rigged boxing matches and cocaine.

Kaya Scodelario as Susie Glass (Christopher Rafael/Netflix)
Kaya Scodelario as Susie Glass (Christopher Rafael/Netflix)

Oh and Vinnie Jones – whose role in Ritchie’s breakout Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels made the former footballer a film star for a while – is back too. He’s playing a gun-happy gamekeeper who nevertheless has a soft spot for bringing home wounded animals, and while his role is pretty 2D, it’s good to have him back.

This being a Ritchie production, the accents are thick enough to cut with a knife. One group of extremely Liverpudlian gangsters appears to have been shoehorned in with the sole purpose of saying the word “chicken” as much as possible. Meanwhile, Scodelario sounds like she’s had elocution lessons from Ronnie Kray. Surely nobody speaks like that nowadays?

This all sounds wearily like going over old ground but surprisingly I found this hard to hate. It’s just too fun: the fast cars, the increasingly unhinged baddies and how everything keeps going wrong in ever more spectacular ways.

There are posh country parties where people strip off. So much cocaine that it’s occasionally like watching the action from inside a snowglobe. Bizarrely, there’s a running gag where the baddies are named after political figures: one is called Stanley Johnson “with a t”; another is called Toni Blair.

Throughout it all, Ritchie’s direction is as stylish and dynamic as ever, keeping the action rocketing along with all the gusto of the Lamborghini Hurricanes that tear across the screen from time to time. Yes, there are some eye-meltingly cringe moments, but the frenetic energy keeps the show just about on the road.

It’s more of the same from a director who has been doing this on and off for a quarter of a century. But somehow, even in 2024, he still knows how to keep it entertaining.

The Gentlemen airs on Netflix from March 4