Intertwined storylines, crazy yet memorable characters, an ensemble cast, witty dialogues, a great OST and BGM, loads of attitude, hip and highly stylized direction are the hallmarks of a typical Guy Ritchie flick. In the midst there is always a tight screenplay with a kickass twist which weaves all these elements together so neatly that one is often left wondering how the hell does he manage to do that? A Guy Ritchie film is the perfection amalgamation of style and substance.
However compared to other film makers such as Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan etc. he is quite underrated IMHO. One will find a dozen blogs on Nolan, Tarantino etc praising their valuable contribution to cinema. But not many fanboy blogs or articles can be found on Ritchie.
One criticism often leveled against him is that his films more than often centre around the London underworld .But then every director has a genre that is very dear to him/her and loves to dabble in it more than often which often results in some of their best works.
Here’s a look at the films which he’s gone on to make over the years.
Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Guy Ritchie made a smashing directorial debut with Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The film centered around four low life protagonists ( Jason Statham & co.) who get entangled in a high stakes card game. Guy Ritchie uses a rapidly paced narrative , multiple characters , great dialogues to give us a memorable movie . With this movie he established a definitive style of his, which he used to great effect in his other movies as well.
The card game which is the turning point of the film is brilliantly shot with a dizzying editing effect , aptly summing up the protagonist’s perplexed state of mind.
Ritchie should also be credited for introducing us to two charismatic actors Jason Statham and ex-footballer Vinnie Jones. Vinnie Jones is particularly memorable in his role as ‘Big Chris’ the hitman who takes his son ‘Little Chris‘ for some on the job training. The film also features a host of other shady characters who represent a part of the seedy London underworld.
The film boasts of some great lines
Jason statham and his cronies while planning a robbery
Eddie: “They’re armed.”
Soap : “What was that? Armed? What do you mean armed? Armed with what?”
Eddie : “Err, bad breath, colorful language, feather duster… what do you think they’re gonna be armed with? Guns, you tit!”
When Eddie(a mob boss ) threatens Harry (one of the protagonists)
“You must be Eddie,
You must be Harry.
Sorry, didn’t know your father.
Never mind, son.
You just might meet him
if you carry on like that.”
It is moments like these that make you want to watch the movie again and savour all of those moments.
No write up on Guy Ritchie can ever be complete without the mention of Snatch. This was the film that showcased the true genius of Guy Ritchie. Once again it featured a number of crazy characters who are somehow connected in the common pursuit of an 86 karat diamond . Their numerous parallel storylines are interlinked beautifully. Adding to the chaos was a cute pint sized pug who also plays an important role. The film also showcased the signature slick slack editing patterns & visual wizardry of Guy Ritchie in full glory.
The film features two loser protagonists Turkish (Jason Statham) and Tommy ( Stephen Graham) who are illegal boxing promoters and somehow get stuck in the midst of all this chaos. The film features some of the funniest, eccentric, colourful and memorable characters ever witnessed on screen. Who can forget Franky four fingers ( Benicio Del Toro), Bullet Tooth Tony ( Vinnie Jones), Boris the Blade, Brick Top (Alan Ford), Tyrone and the greatest of them all Mickey ( Brad pitt). Of course, equal credit must also be given to these actors who perform their parts with utmost efficiency.Alan Ford is especially noteworthy as Brick Top who is subtly yet sufficiently menacing.
Brad Pitt steals the show as the incomprehensible boxing champion. Ritchie also uses the husky baritone of Statham to great effect who doubles up as the narrator for the film. As per the trivia section of IMDB , one of the DVD version of Snatch features subtitles only for Pitt’s character as a deliberate ploy to enhance the fun quotient of Pitt’s character.
This film once again boasts of great dialogues in typical Guy Ritchie tradition
Like those given below
Turkish And Tommy’s introduction by Turkish
“My name is Turkish.
Funny name for an Englishman, I know.My parents to be were on the same plane when it crashed. That’s how they met.
They named me after the name of the plane.Not many people are named after a plane crash.
That’s Tommy. He tells people he was named after a gun, but I know he was really named after a famous 19th century ballet dancer.”
Mickey’s introduction by Turkish
“There was a problem with gypsies You can’t understand what’s being said.
Not Irish, not English , It’s just Pikey”
Turkish to Tommy referring to two boxers ‘Mad Fist’ and ‘The Gun’ who are dead
You aren’t exactly Mister Current Affairs are you, Tommy? “Mad Fist” went mad, and “The Gun,” shot himself.
But some of the best lines are reserved for Brick top
Brick Top to Tyrone and his cronies while threatening them
“Do you know what “nemesis” means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this case by an horrible cunt… me”
Turkish to Brick top
Turkish : You take sugar?
Brick Top : No thank you, Turkish; I’m sweet enough
Turkish to Brick Top referring to Gorgeous George a Boxer who has been knocked down by Mickey
Tommy: We’ve lost Gorgeous George.
Brick Top: Well, where did you lose him? He ain’t a set of fucking car keys, is he?
Quite deservedly Lock, stock and Snatch find an honourable mention in the IMDB top 250 list. A unique thing about Ritchie’s direction is that he creates great humour resulting from the misfortune of the characters. You feel sorry for their plight however it is hard not to laugh at their misfortune. The one thing I really like about British Comedies is that despite being very subtle it is damn funny. And this style of humour is also visible in Ritchie’s films.
During his marriage with Madonna, Ritchie also made a film with her in the lead called “Swept away”(2002) which apparently was a love story. It opened to extremely poor critical and audience reaction. Due to this extreme negative reaction, it didn’t even receive a theatrical release and was released directly on dvd. Not having not seen the film at all till date, I will refrain from further commenting on this movie.
Guy Ritchie returned to direction with ‘Revolver’ which once again featured Jason Statham in the lead. The story is about Jake Green ( Jason Statham) who enters a deadly gambling game with an aim of taking revenge on casino tycoon Macha ( Ray Liotta).
The storyline may sound simple. But in terms of execution, this was a complete departure from Ritchie’s previous two films. He tried something really different with this film. A complete departure from Ritchie’s earlier works, this was quite a dark and complex thriller. This can be inferred from the opening monologue of the film by Statham
“One thing I’ve learned in the last seven years:
In every game and con,
there’s always an opponent, and there’s always a victim.
The trick is to know when you’re the latter, so you can become the former.”
Perhaps audiences and critics alike were not able to decipher the dark tones of the film as a result of which the film was unfairly panned and flopped at the box office. But a second viewing of the film should change all those perceptions. It took me two viewings to fully understand the film and appreciate the misunderstood genius of Ritchie.
Leaving behind the successive failures of his past two films, Guy Ritchie made a smashing return to form with RocknRolla. It featured Gerard Butler and an ensemble cast featuring Thandie Newton amongst others. The film revolves around a bunch of shady characters vying for a valuable piece of real estate in Central London.
With a fast pace, snazzy music, uber cool characters, the trademark editing patterns of Ritchie & a cool twist towards the climax it enjoyed great success at the box office helping Ritchie regain his lost glory.
The opening scene of the film is one of the best I have ever seen. The dialogue,BGM and the stylish opening titles & VFX makes it one of the most kickass opening scenes ever seen on the screen.
If there was an award for the funniest and quickest sex scene , this film would win it hands down. Watch the love making scene between Butler and Newton and you’ll exactly know what I mean.
In 2009, Ritchie directed the latest on screen adaptation of Sherlock Holmes featuring Robert Downey Jr as Holmes & Jude Law as Dr Watson – Holmes trusted aide. The selection of Guy Ritchie as a director for the venture & casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes was quirky and raised a lot of eyebrows.
Purists and fanboys of the novels were bound to be displeased. After all the latest cinematic avatar of Holmes was anything unlike the iconic creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock indulged in bare knuckle boxing matches, cross dressing,tom foolery and yes it also included the signature slick editing patterns employed by Ritchie. The new age Sherlock Holmes was very much macho but very intelligent too.Despite the setup being faithful to the novel, the overall tone of the film was slick , glossy ,stylish & contemporary yet smart.
Despite the various changes made in Holmes’s character by Ritchie & his team , one cant deny that the new Holmes was very much fun to watch. Robert Downey Jr & Jude Law’s (As Dr. Watson) made the franchise more memorable thanks to their fantastic chemistry & great performances. Downey Jr employs his goofy charm and makes Holmes all the more endearing.
A notable feature about the production was the depiction of the popular Tower bridge which was unfinished in 1891 i.e in the year in the which this movie is set.
Ritchie followed this up with Sherlock Holmes : A Game Of Shadows in 2011 which was equally enjoyable.
Despite all the criticism leveled against him of style taking prominence over substance and his films being repetitive, one just cant deny that his films are hugely entertaining and also a visual marvel and make for memorable repeat viewings.