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Guy Ritchie Is The Least Appreciated Director In The World

Guy Ritchie speaks onstage during the Special NY Screening of "The Gentlemen" at the Alamo Drafthouse on January 11, 2020 in New York City.
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for STXfilms

Despite the fact that I work for an openly liberal publication with a co-op business model, I am, at heart, a closet bro. I enjoyed both Entourage and the Entourage movie. I believe that Def Leppard is one of the most important rock bands to ever exist. I abhor lucidity in the evening time. I read Sydney Sweeney thinkpieces mostly for the pictures. My dream house must include an infinity pool. And I love Guy Ritchie.


You might regard Guy Ritchie solely as a British Tarantino wannabe: a guy who rode the coattails of the '90s indie crime movie wave and parlayed some early success there into steady studio hackwork for a couple of extra decades. Or you might only think of him as the guy who married Madonna, inspiring her British Accent Phase, and then made a terrible remake of 1974’s Swept Away with her as the lead. These are all fair critiques. Also, I don’t give a shit. Because Guy Ritchie is fucking awesome. This post will explain why.

In an age when studios like Marvel have done their best to turn talented directors into replaceable parts in the fuck factory, Guy Ritchie is one of the few directors to have retained the ability to make films in his own voice. He’s also still making movies that are FUNNY, at a time when studios have little to no interest in making comedies because they don’t translate to international markets. He masterminded The Gentlemen, a deadly funny TV adaptation of his own film that’s currently the top show both on Netflix and in my heart. I tore through it in just a handful of sittings, the smile never leaving my face. This is because my cheeky lad gave me the goods, just like I knew he would. Any quality Guy Ritchie project contains the following elements:

  • Dense plotting (sometimes too dense)
  • Heavy gunfire
  • Jason Statham, or people who sound like Jason Statham
  • Characters I’d like to be one day
  • Accents I’d like to have one day
  • Criminals introduced via montage
  • Characters explaining how they’re about to be fucked over, or how they just fucked someone else over, again via montage (Guy Ritchie is the only modern director who can use montages effectively, without resorting to the Team America formula for them)
  • Some of the finest actors in the world chewing the fuck out of the scenery
  • Boxing
  • Weed
  • Gambling
  • Stupid characters who fuck everything up
  • The main guy shitting all over an underling because they asked a stupid question
  • British aristocrats who reside on lavish estates but are more cash poor than a hobo
  • Fancy clothes
  • Fancier food
  • Vinnie Jones

None of these works are serious, nor are they supposed to be. These are Cockney action cartoons, and have been ever since Ritchie’s feature length debut Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, a film that I have memorized and quote to myself every day, even when no one around me knows what movie I’m referencing. Fanny by the gaslight.

Working within blessedly reasonable running times, a Guy Ritchie movie manages to fire off as many one-liners as a Simpsons episode, and with nearly as many sight gags. The first episode of The Gentlemen climaxes with a coked-up Daniel Ings dressed in a chicken outfit and straining to cluck in a sufficiently realistic manner for a ruthless drug dealer to whom he owes £500,000. It’s a perfect bit of television that abandons any pretense of reality in order to indulge every bro fantasy I’ll ever have.

That’s an important thing to have out there when most movies and TVs shows are hellbent on depicting reality in as gritty and darkly lit a manner as possible. If you’ve ever watched the masterful Top Boy you know that, by comparison, Ritchie’s depictions of the English criminal underground are hardly accurate. In fact, when Guy Ritchie tries to do serious, he neglects all of the best tools in his arsenal. But when he’s free to be himself—as he has been since renting himself out as a hired gun for studio tentpole attempts like Sherlock Holmes, Man from U.N.C.L.E., King Arthur, and the live-action Aladdin remake—he’s as reliable as an AC/DC track. And there’s room for work like that in the canon. Top Boy devastated me. The Gentlemen made me want to own 15 antique shotguns and run my own weed cartel. There is harmony in this.

There will likely be little recognition for the contributions that Ritchie has made to the cause of escapism. He’s never gonna win an Oscar, or a Critics Circle Award, or any of that shit. But not all art has to aspire for such accolades. Some art has to be made for bros like me, who want crime movies that double as personal fantasy. You know how often I daydream of being a criminal? ALL THE TIME. And not a lame criminal like Paul Manafort or some other sweaty American pud, but a dashing rogue with a crisp accent and an even crisper peacoat; a man who never blinks when there’s a gun in his face and who always makes time to get laid when the opportunity arises. These are the men and women who populate the GRCU, and they make for perfect theater.

It’s not exactly socially conscious to make bro porn in this day and age, but you cannot begin to understand how badly my repulsive id NEEDS this shit to keep on rocking and rolling. I need my worst impulses fed, and what healthier outlet for that than a silly Guy Ritchie flick? I don’t ACTUALLY want to deal drugs, I just wanna think about doing it! That’s not wrong, and this man gives me license to do just that, and with a stylistic flair that few other directors, save for maybe Bullet Train’s David Leitch, can even begin to match. Get on your high horse and mock Guy Ritchie all you like. I’ll be too busy enjoying myself to hear you. INNIT?!

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