Who’s It It: Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Toby Kebbell, Jeremy Piven, Chris Bridges
The Basics: British thugs of every socio-economic strata get into real estate. That’s as simply as it can be explained because:
1. I got lost in the plot somewhere around minute 46.
2. Getting lost in the plot isn’t really all that big a deal.
3. Even if I hadn’t gotten lost it would take me about a thousand more words to explain it because director Guy Ritchie likes to pile detail on top of twist on top of incident on top of quirk on top of torture. Not that that’s a bad thing. But you can tell he’s daring you to keep up, even when it’s all empty silliness.
What’s The Deal: Style can carry you a long way. And Guy Ritchie’s movies—at least the cool ones where it’s all about the British underworld—can’t help themselves in that department. He can’t tell a straightforward crime story about a heist or a double-cross. He needs 8-way-crosses and inside jokes and gangstas who watch The Remains of The Day on DVD while waiting for the drop and Thandie Newton dancing with Gerard Butler in a scene that rivals the one where Uma and JT do it in Pulp Fiction. He wants street thugs with gay coming-out stories to hit on 300 stud Butler and people in wheelchairs devoured by crayfish and he wants the camera to go zoom zoom zoom every chance it can.
Why I Like His Movies In The Same Way That I Like Period Films About Ladies In Big Hats: Because they’re comforting day-trips to an alien planet. And you can tell they are to him, as well. Ritchie grew up posh but is so enamored of criminals, so wishes he were “hard,” is so into the kind of fantasy man he isn’t (for example, the kind who would never marry Madonna), that he’s made a fetish out of his male characters’ swaggering and scars and bloody lips and constant use of words pronounced “nuffink.” Meanwhile he can’t help but tweak them into submission for his own amusement, rearrange their masculinity and amplify their idiosyncrasies. Over there they call it being cheeky.
Who To Keep In The Divorce: If Filth and Wisdom is the kind of pretentious, fake-Godard B.S. we can expect from the future ex-Mrs. R, then I’ll stick with this guy. At least we’re guaranteed he’ll keep making fun shoot-em-in-the-mouth movies instead of another Swept Away.