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We need to stop taking Guy Ritchie for granted

Guy Ritchie looks at a monitor on set of The Gentlemen.
Kevin Baker / Netflix

Few directors have had a more prolific past five years than Guy Ritchie. The filmmaker, once known best for his late 1990s/early 2000s British gangster movies, has fully completed his transition from scrappy upstart to reliable studio director. He began that journey in the late 2000s and continued it throughout the 2010s when he agreed to direct films like Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and — in one of the strangest creative decisions in Hollywood history — Disney’s live-action Aladdin. There were multiyear gaps between a few of those movies, though, and all four of his 2010s titles (including 2015’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) were connected, in some form or another, to a preexisting piece of intellectual property.

This decade, Ritchie’s already released five movies: The Gentlemen, Wrath of Man, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, The Covenant, and The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. On top of that, he’s already made a sixth (2025’s In the Grey) and written and directed multiple episodes of The Gentlemen, a Netflix series he created based on his 2019 film of the same name. After spending 10 years floating through the world of high-budget IP filmmaking, Ritchie has turned himself into his own industry that produces at least one action movie a year.

None of his most recent films boast the same verve and attitude of the movies he made a name for himself with, but they’ve all been more entertaining and lighter on their feet than most of the franchise blockbusters Hollywood releases nowadays. He’s proven that mid-budget action filmmaking can still be a worthwhile and viable endeavor for both studios and directors to pursue. Unfortunately, he hasn’t received the proper credit or praise that he deserves.

The director as showman

The cast of The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare sit and stand on a boat together.
Daniel Smith / Lionsgate

There’s something incredible about watching a Guy Ritchie movie. No matter what, you know you’re in for a good time. After spending the first 20 years of his career climbing up the Hollywood food chain and getting used to working with budgets of varying sizes, Ritchie has honed the most basic tools of action filmmaking.

He’s built the kind of simple, straightforward toolbox for himself that every director used to have, and he’s spent the past five years using it to make movies that are lean, engaging, visually legible, and refreshingly well-paced. None of Ritchie’s recent films have overstayed their welcome, nor have they taken cheap shortcuts that render their action sequences incomprehensible.

Dar Salim and Jake Gyllenhaal sit in a military Humvee together in The Covenant.
Christopher Raphael/Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures / MGM

At all times, whether it be in a military drama like The Covenant or a period dramedy like The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, Ritchie feels in control of the movie he’s made. That adds a level of comfort — a sense of security that you’re in capable hands — to the act of watching his movies. In certain instances, you may end up wishing that Ritchie had pushed himself and his films harder, but you’ll never be bored in his movies or leave them unsatisfied.

Ritchie hasn’t lost his edge

A man walks down a road with another one holding his suitcases behind him.
Netflix

Earlier this year, Ritchie extended his talents to the small screen — overseeing the eight-episode first season of The Gentlemen, an absurdist modern-day crime series that has no business being as good as it is. Its first two episodes, which Ritchie directed and co-wrote, look great and move at a pleasingly brisk tempo.

The show won’t be winning any awards anytime soon, but its charismatic cast, stylish direction, and ensemble of well-drawn characters make it feel reminiscent, in many ways, of Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. It proves that Ritchie hasn’t lost his edge — and it’s as immediately watchable as any other TV show released so far this year.

Kaya Scodelario stands next to Theo James in The Gentlemen.
Christopher Rafael / Netflix

Upon first glance, none of this may seem particularly worthy of praise. However, in a day and age where it feels like the films Ritchie has spent his recent years making (i.e., original, modestly sized thrillers) are a dying breed, the work he’s doing right now isn’t just welcome, but invaluable.

He’s crafted a handful of memorable, yet lightweight action flicks in a shockingly short amount of time, as well as an instantly likable Netflix series, and he’s made doing so look gobsmackingly easy. If that doesn’t make him a filmmaker worth celebrating right now, what does?

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is currently playing in theaters. Season 1 of The Gentlemen is streaming now on Netflix.

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Alex Welch
Alex is a TV and movies writer based out of Los Angeles. In addition to Digital Trends, his work has been published by…
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