Gentlemen, The – Season 1


“You underestimate me, Susan”

Main Cast: Theo James, Kaya Scodelario

Creator: Guy Ritchie

I saw Guy Ritchie’s 2019 movie The Gentlemen. But I can’t say I remember too much about it. I think I liked it? Maybe it got sucked up in the pandemic trauma that shortly followed its release.

Regardless, I liked it well enough to give Ritchie’s new series, also called The Gentlemen, a try.

Theo James stars as Edward Horniman. We meet Eddie as a goodhearted UN peacekeeper but quickly learn he is also an aristocrat whose father is terribly ill.

The action moves to the Horniman estate, Halstead Manor. Upon taking on his new role as the Duke of Halstead, Eddie is surprised to discover that the estate is home to a large underground marijuana farm.

Not being terribly prudish, Eddie gets on well with Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario), who runs the operation. Being terribly pig-headed, Eddie does not like being told what to do and determines that his family needs to be out of this particular business.

Now, The Gentlemen is a spin-off from the film, but it isn’t a sequel. It takes the general premise and turns it over, examining it from a different perspective – that of the aristocrat instead of the owner of the farm.

As a result, Ritchie has a whole new set of characters to build. Eddie’s brother, Freddy (not a useful man), sister Charlotte (gets short shrift in this season), mother Sabrina (far smarter than she lets on), and groundskeeper Geoffrey (who knows everything about the estate) populate the manor.

Running the business we have Jimmy (weed whisperer), Susie’s brother, Jack (handsome boxer with connections) and father, Bobby (in prison with CONNECTIONS).

We’re also served a collection of miscreants and bad actors, most notably Stanley Johnston (the marvelous Giancarlo Esposito) who has his collector’s eye on Halstead Manor.

Pour this motley lot into a cauldron and stir in a hearty amount of hubris, foolishness, greed, and violence. Then add a dash of high society and you have The Gentlemen. The series is a delightful combination of manners and mayhem, sophistication and stupidity, chivalry and chicanery.

Leading the way is Theo James as Eddie. I’ve never seen James slide so easily into a character. He was great in White Lotus, but Eddie fits him like a glove. He’s earnest and generally kind, but with the inherited arrogance of an aristocrat and the tactical skills of a soldier. His smirk is omnipresent, adding lightness to the entire proceedings.

Kaya Scodelario as Susie Glass is excellent as Eddie’s frenemy. She’s serious, but not to a fault, and well-versed and comfortable in both his world and hers. He definitely thinks he’s better than her, despite being shown quite plainly at every turn that he is not.

This is the central relationship in The Gentlemen. The other characters orbit around these two, tossing obstacles in their paths and wrenches in their plans. Daniel Ings as Freddy is the most entertaining of these, as a hapless buffoon who also manages to be stupidly dangerous. I also very much enjoy Ray Winstone as the imprisoned Godfather and of course Esposito as the American interloper.

In true Guy Ritchie style, The Gentlemen is filled with violence. It’s somehow plentiful without being gratuitous and every bit of it shows the character of one player or another. The plot is twisty and sometimes exasperating (definitely on purpose) and accompanied by a twinkly, jaunty score that should be at complete odds with everything happening on screen. Yet it is not. Its lightness highlights the absurdity of both the circumstances and the characters.

The Gentlemen is, overall, an excellent eight episodes of TV with plenty of room for more seasons. The writing is tight and the situations both tense and ridiculous. The performances are superb, with every actor fully embodying their character even as the whole production throws a wink and a grin at the audience.

Five stars and highly recommended, The Gentlemen is currently streaming on Netflix.  

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