Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen Stumbles Through the Door from Film to TV

Eddie Horniman (Theo James) plays a suave gentleman who gets sucked into a criminal empire that he’s consistently trying to avoid. When his wealthy father passes away, Eddie discovers that dad had a few cohorts who operated on the other side of the law, which quickly results in the heir having to help manage various criminal operations out of the massive Horniman estate. It actually starts when Eddie’s dumb brother (Daniel Ings) struggles to pay back a boatload of cash to some drug dealers, leading to an extended scene in the premiere in which he dresses like a chicken for maximum embarrassment. Where this scene will end is obvious to anyone who has seen a Ritchie movie, which is part of the overall problem with “The Gentlemen” in that it’s clear that every negotiation is going to go poorly, there will likely be some highly-edited hand-to-hand combat, and probably a needle drop or two. The playbook is too familiar.

If you’re wondering when Matthew McConaughey and Hugh Grant are going to show up, be warned that this is not that show of your dreams. This is a spin-off really in tone and theme only, capturing the world of wealthy criminals in the U.K. and dropping an occasional reference to the film without being directly related to it. It’s a spiritual sibling, another tale of aristocrats who happen to operate criminal empires under the pomp and circumstance. It also has a bunch of Ritchie style to tie it to the film, including scribbled captions that further detail the criminal happenings or overwritten dialogue.

The truth is it’s hard to try and be the coolest cat in the room for eight hours. Eddie himself gets particularly lost in the action, partly due to an underwritten role but also a flat performance from James that creates a black hole at the center of the show. Kaya Scodelario fares much better as the co-lead, the woman who basically serves as Eddie’s liaison to the criminal world, and who gets her own rich arc in the back half of the season. When the show threatens to fall apart, she often brings it back, giving a confident, nuanced performance.


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