Swanner: Stephanie Patrick’s (Blake Lively) life hasn’t turned out the way she had hoped after her family was killed in an airline explosion, a flight she was supposed to have been on. Distraught over being a sole survivor, she becomes a hooker junkie living in London. Proctor (Raza Jaffery), a journalist, contacts her to say there was a bomb on the flight that killed her family, and the man that made that bomb was living in London. Proctor asks her help in seeking revenge. After she blows a chance at killing the bomber, Stephanie ends up working with a man (Jude Law) who she trains with to become the assassin she needs to be.
Directed by Reed Morano and written by Mark Burnell, the film is slow to start, spending most of the first half in flashbacks of the family, and of Stephanie getting high and fighting anyone trying to help her. Morano won an Emmy for directing The Handmaids Tale, and it shows here with the slow storytelling and drab exteriors. Burnell’s script is messy, with its terrible first half, but makes it up in the second half when this film becomes the thriller it’s supposed to be. Everything gets better in the second hour of the film, except at that point the audience was just waiting for something positive to happen.
Blake Lively does a nice job by creating a character who is almost unrecognizable, so beautiful Lively doesn’t come off as another actress trying to jump into action films. She pulls her punches and it’s effective. The rest of the cast is good with performances from Law, Jaffery, Sterling K Brown, Daniel Mays, and Max Casella. This film could have been very entertaining, but with its slow start and far too linear script, it suffers from too much character development. Her family was killed and now she seeks revenge. That should have been the first ten minutes of the movie, not the first half. One last thing, I know they kept going back to the flashbacks of the family and her mother’s face as motivation for the character, but it became close to comical how often it was used.
Swanner: 2 stars for the second hour of the film
Swanner and Judd talk about Modern Family; American Housewife; Will & Grace; Schitt’s Creek; Evil; The Connors; Leslie Jones: Time Machine; Andy Schauf: Neon Skyline; Orville Peck: Pony; The Gentlemen.
Judd: After spending the last decade trying to branch out and do something other than “Guy Ritchie” films, Guy Ritchie has gone back to his roots and given us a British mob film, The Gentlemen. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunman, Colin Farrell, Henry Golding, Hugh Grant, The Gentlemen doesn’t bring anything new to the Ritchie cannon, but it is a solid entry with fantastic performances and a great script with double crosses, triple crosses, and enough twists to keep you entertained for the full two hours.
Mickey (McConaughey) is the most successful weed dealer in the UK, but middle-age has set in and he wants out of the game. He’s ready to retire. When he offers his business to a fellow competitor, Matthew (Jeremy Strong), things start to go awry. It doesn’t help that Mickey and his crew are being tailed by a private investigator named Fletcher (Grant) who is working to dig up dirt on Mickey for a tabloid. The story unfolds through Fletcher as he explains about the blackmailing plot through the use of a movie script he has written, detailing all the exploits he’s caught on his camera.
As with most Ritchie films, the editing and direction are frantic, but like Mickey, Ritchie is older and willing to slow things down and let the story speak for itself. Is it a perfect script? No, there are too many subplots, and we could have done with a few less characters, but it never feels overcooked.
The performances are all fantastic with Grant and Hunman providing excellent chemistry. Golding gives us the testosterone laden rage of Ritchie’s earlier films, and McConaughey is great when he’s not giving me a “talking to myself while driving a Lincoln” vibe – which, thankfully, isn’t often.
The fact that Ritchie hasn’t done a movie like this in such a long time also makes it easier to forgive the film’s missteps. It’s comforting and familiar, and pretty damn good to boot.
Judd: 3 stars