Guy Ritchie makes a rare TV show with ‘The Gentlemen’: review

Theo Games, Guy Ritchie, and Matthew McConaughey.
Guy Ritchie has made a rare TV show, "The Gentlemen," starring Theo James (left), which is a spinoff of his 2019 movie starring Matthew McConaughey.
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Ladies and gentlemen, Guy Ritchie has made a TV show.

The Netflix series “The Gentlemen,” like his 2019 movie of the same name, is one of the filmmaker’s first-ever small-screen projects. (His only other show was the 2000 British miniseries “Lock, Stock…”)

Premiering March 7 and created by Ritchie, 55, “The Gentlemen” series is a spinoff of the 2019 movie (starring Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, Colin Farrell and Matthew McConaughey).

But the series is a new story with a new cast, and doesn’t require knowledge of the eponymous film.

Set in England, it follows Eddie Horniman (Theo James, “The White Lotus”), who unexpectedly inherits a huge country estate that’s been in his family since the 1500s — after his ne’er-do-well party-boy older brother, Freddy (Daniel Ings, “Lovesick”), gets passed over in their father’s will, much to Freddy’s ire.

In the first episode, when Eddie asks Freddy how their ailing father is doing, Freddy replies, “His goose is well and truly cooked” in the typically irreverent tone that will be familiar to viewers of the creator’s past work.

Theo James as Eddie in the new Netflix series “The Gentlemen.” Christopher Rafael/Netflix
Theo James as Eddie in the new Netflix series “The Gentlemen.” Christopher Rafael/Netflix
“The Gentlemen” is a spinoff of the 2019 movie, starring Hugh Grant, Jeremy Strong, Henry Golding, Colin Farrell, Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam and Michelle Dockery. Courtesy Everett Collection
“The Gentlemen” is a spinoff of the 2019 movie, starring Hugh Grant, Jeremy Strong, Henry Golding, Colin Farrell, Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam and Michelle Dockery. Courtesy Everett Collection
Guy Ritchie has primarily made movies, and “The Gentlemen” is one of his first-ever TV shows. Dave J Hogan/Getty Images
Guy Ritchie has primarily made movies, and “The Gentlemen” is one of his first-ever TV shows. Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

After his unexpected inheritance, Eddie is in for an even bigger shock when he learns that the estate is home to a cannabis empire that his father has allowed to flourish, in exchange for a cut of the profits. He soon crosses paths with a bunch of sketchy characters from the British criminal underworld, such as Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario, “Skins”), who presides over the operation and isn’t happy that Eddie isn’t as cooperative and hands-off as his dad.

This is the show’s main connection to the movie, since that introduced a world where cannabis labs are on the lands of aristocratic landlords (who need the money for the upkeep of their estates).

Rounding out the cast of characters is suave dealer Stanley Johnston (Giancarlo Esposito); estate gamekeeper Geoff (Vinnie Jones, a frequent staple in Ritchie projects), and Eddie’s chilly mother, Lady Sabrina (Joely Richardson, “Nip/Tuck”).

Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario) in Guy Ritchie’s new series, “The Gentlemen.” Christopher Rafael/Netflix
Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario) in Guy Ritchie’s new series, “The Gentlemen.” Christopher Rafael/Netflix
Giancarlo Esposito (center) as Stanley Johnston. Kevin Baker/Netflix
Giancarlo Esposito (center) as Stanley Johnston. Kevin Baker/Netflix
Frequent Guy Ritchie collaborator Vinnie Jones plays the gamekeeper, Geoff. NETFLIX
Frequent Guy Ritchie collaborator Vinnie Jones plays the gamekeeper, Geoff. NETFLIX

At first, Eddie wants to extricate his family from this situation, but before long, he finds that he’s got a knack for this (under)world.

All of Ritchie’s projects share some qualities: They’re propulsive, fun, chaotic, coarse, irreverent and full of fast-talking men (or “lads,” as his characters would say) on the wrong side of the law.

“The Gentlemen” fits into that mold. The director-screenwriter has made some odd divergences in recent years, such as 2019’s live-action “Aladdin,” and his decent but under-appreciated attempts at period pieces (2015’s “The Man from U.N.C.L.E” and 2017’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”). But he’s at his strongest in the contemporary British gangster genre, such as his 1998 movie “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and 2000’s “Snatch.”

“The Gentlemen” is a return to his roots. But clearly, with Susie’s character, Ritchie is also attempting to make it slightly less of a “lad” fest and give a meatier part to a woman, to varying degrees of success.

Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario) and Eddie Horniman (Theo James) surveying the secret cannabis empire. Christopher Rafael/Netflix
Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario) and Eddie Horniman (Theo James) surveying the secret cannabis empire. Christopher Rafael/Netflix
Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario) presides over the secret cannabis empire. Christopher Rafael/Netflix
Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario) presides over the secret cannabis empire. Christopher Rafael/Netflix
Giancarlo Esposito in “The Gentlemen.” NETFLIX
Giancarlo Esposito in “The Gentlemen.” NETFLIX

The plot gets convoluted at times, with a sprawling cast and lots of double-crossing — as is customary in most of Ritchie’s stories. The vague connection to the movie also may be unnecessarily confusing to some viewers, who might wonder if they need to watch the film before the show.

Nevertheless, for anybody who wants a gangster story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, “The Gentlemen” is a rollicking good time.