Review: Guy Ritchie's Druggy 'The Gentleman' Series on Netflix

via Netflix

[Beware of spoliers]

Based on The Gentleman, a 2020 drug movie directed by Guy Ritchie, The Gentleman series, currently streaming at Netflix, is a considerable improvement. Both are about marijuana growing operations throughout England and who ultimately is going to control them. Ritchie also created the series.

The original Gentleman role played awkwardly by Texan Matthew McConaughey is now in the competent hands of British actor Theo James, best known for The White Lotus. James plays Eddie Horniman, a UK soldier with a royal family connection (he's referred to as "your grace" and "Duke"). When his father dies, Eddie's summoned home and learns he's been given the keys to the family's fabulous estate and not his older, unstable brother Freddy (Donald Ings). Joely Richardson plays their mother, Lady Sabrina.

"Kaya Skodolario's steely portrayal of a drug queenpin is the real reason to watch 'The Gentleman.'"

Eddie quickly finds out the property is secretly earning in the range of $5 miillion (or pounds) per month thanks to an underground grow room that's producing cannabis flower. His father had made a deal with gangster Bobby Glass (Ray Winstone), who's in jail, several years back to allow the operation to flourish. Glass' calculating daughter Susie (Kaya Skodolario) is running the business while he's locked up.

This rather simple set-up gets complicated fast when Eddie, new to the drug world, becomes involved. While Susie's focused and sure of herself, Eddie quickly makes a mess of things that she has to keep cleaning up. Eddie gets so confused he thinks Susie's setting him up, which she does after he does the same to her. It's a clever game of double crosses.

This 420 neon sign is the backdrop for an Ep. 5 scene with Theo James and Kaya Skodolario.

The cast of heavies is incidental. They carry guns, blow people away and plot against each other, which is fairly typical of druggy dramas. What holds The Gentleman together is the tension between the leads. Susie's particularly cold and cutting to Eddie, while he's more of a stiff upper lip Brit who tries to outsmart her, but can't. Any hope of a sexual union is dashed by their constant wariness of each other. Maybe in Season 2.

Considering the subject, very little weed is smoked in The Gentleman. Eddie never uses the stuff; he prefers expensive cigars and drinks Scotch nonstop (as does Susie). Most of the plant-touching is relegated to grower dude Jimmy Chang (Michael Wu), a Chinese-American Rasta who runs the bunker garden. The one smoking scene with a woman he meets, Gabrielle (Ruby Sear), gets him into trouble. Freddy also puffs and even claims to have bred a strain that combines cannabis and coca. 

Dubbed The Gentleman, the eight-episode series might have been better titled "The Gentlewoman." Skodolario's steely portrayal of a drug queenpin, like Sofia Vergara's in Griselda (also on Netflx), is the real reason to watch.



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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.