The Gentlemen TV Review

We review Netflix and Guy Ritchie’s expansion of this 2020 hit film, The Gentlemen, with this series being a slick continuation.

PLOT: Eddie Horniman unexpectedly inherits his father’s sizeable country estate – only to discover it’s part of a cannabis empire. Moreover, a host of unsavoury characters from Britain’s criminal underworld want a piece of the operation. Determined to extricate his family from their clutches, Eddie tries to play the gangsters at their own game. However, as he gets sucked into the world of criminality, he begins to find a taste for it.

REVIEW: Back in January 2020, just before COVID-19 changed the world as we know it, Guy Ritchie released The Gentlemen. His best film in a long time and a throwback to his Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch days, The Gentlemen was a British gangster tale featuring Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant, Charlie Hunnam, and Colin Farrell in a twisty narrative about pot dealers, aristocratic estates, and triple-crosses. Guy Ritchie began developing a series based on The Gentlemen months after the film debuted, and Netflix eagerly scooped it up. With core plot elements as the only connection between the film and series of the same name, The Gentlemen is a more straight-forward gangster tale than the movie but still a rewarding and enjoyable one thanks to Ritchie’s involvement as writer and director along with a solid cast of actors led by Theo James and Kaya Scodelario.

The Gentlemen review

Like the film, The Gentlemen series focuses on a cannabis empire using British aristocratic estates as covers for their underground operations. Also like the film, there are competing factions including gangsters, an American investor, and all sorts of criminals. The difference stems from the focus of the story. Where Mickey (Matthew McConaughey) was the central figure trying to sell his cannabis empire in the movie, the series focuses on Eddie Horniman (Theo James), the new Duke of Halstead. After his father’s death, Eddie inherits the Halstead estate which is home to a cannabis facility run by Bobby Glass’ (Ray Winstone) daughter, Susie (Kaya Scodelario). Uneasy with the criminal enterprise, Eddie initially wants out. But, when his elder brother Freddie (Daniel Ings) gets himself into deep debt, Eddie teams with Susie and learns about how the other side operates. The series focuses on the partnership between Eddie and Susie while also introducing us to the complex web of competing interests in the weed enterprise which leads to all sorts of violence and subterfuge.

In many ways, The Gentlemen series feels like a reimagining of the film. The story hits some vaguely similar notes but the vast majority is completely different. By showing us Eddie’s rise from a soldier to an aristocrat to a kingpin, we get a unique perspective from the already-established kingpin trying to go legit in the movie. Theo James makes for a solid lead here after his solid turn on The White Lotus and an underappreciated performance in The Time Traveler’s Wife. James looks the part of an aristocrat but has the proper edge that comes with becoming a criminal. At the same time, Kaya Scodelario is great here as she echoes Michelle Dockery’s character Rosalind in the movie but gives Susie her layers. Both are formidable characters who have good chemistry that balances the tried-and-true “will they/won’t they” dynamic of platonic but sexy series leads. The Gentlemen is not about romance but rather business and there is no shortage of the repertory of British bandits, thugs, and middlemen we have come to expect from Guy Ritchie productions. Here, the characters run the gamut from Giancarlo Esposito playing a more suave variation on his Gus Fring role, Peter Serafinowicz portraying the character Vinnie Jones usually plays, and Vinnie Jones in a role that goes against type in the best ways possible.

Split over eight chapters, The Gentlemen differs from many Guy Ritchie projects in the sheer depth of the material. With feature films having just a couple of hours to develop a narrative, Ritchie’s movies have relied on intricate plots that use creative editing, non-linear storytelling, and visual tricks to propel them from confusing to energetic. The frenetic pacing of Ritchie’s early films has transitioned to more mature storytelling over the years, and The Gentlemen is a product of that. Yes, there are familiar trademarks from Guy Ritchie’s career, including on-screen graphics and unique musical cues, but this series is more focused on a traditionally constructed narrative that connects from episode to episode, culminating in a revealing finale that lays all the cards on the table and brings all of the plot and subplot together. I enjoyed the ride of this series quite a bit thanks to the more expected format, which does not employ tricks to hide weak material.

The biggest benefit that The Gentlemen has is Guy Ritchie’s direct involvement. While Guy Ritchie co-wrote the premiere episode of Lock, Stock…, the small screen spin-off of his 1998 feature debut, that series never got the director behind the camera. Not only does Guy Ritchie have writing credits on The Gentlemen, but he also directed two episodes. Leading off with the first chapter, Ritchie trades in flashy editing here for an almost feature-length premiere episode that sets the table for his fellow helmers David Caffrey, Eran Creevy, and Nima Nourizadeh. All four directors do a great job of bringing together the scripts by Ritchie and Matthew Read. Read, who wrote for Valhalla Rising, Pusher, and produced Peaky Blinders, has a knowledgeable approach to telling this complex story of the haves and have-nots of British crime and aristocracy that layers this series in a much different way than the movie did.

The Gentlemen review

If I were to rank The Gentlemen as compared to the feature film version, the series ranks slightly lower as it does not boast nearly the caliber of energetic performances as Farrel, McConaughey, Grant, and Hunnam. Still, Theo James is a solid lead and his chemistry with Kaya Scodelario keeps this series buzzing while Ray Winstone, Giancarlo Esposito, and Daniel Ings elevate the rest of the cast. On its own, The Gentlemen could be passed over as another run-of-the-mill import from across the pond when it is a solid blend of gangster drama with a wickedly violent sense of humor. There is potential for The Gentlemen to grow as an ongoing series and while I doubt it will command the following of Guy Ritchie’s big-screen projects or BBC/Netflix’s own Peaky Blinders. Still, this is a unique reimagining of a successful story that takes it in a different direction and sets up future seasons.

The Gentlemen premieres on March 7th on Netflix.


About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.