‘Toff Guys’ will be more like the filmmaker’s early cult classics.
Guy Ritchie has come along way since blasting onto the scene with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels 20 years ago. With that film, he established a knack for gangster tales full of style, wit, and the odd burst of violence. He perfected that formula with Snatch two years later and again with RocknRolla in 2008. However, despite proving himself capable of entertaining audiences on a blockbuster scale since then, he’s yet to make anything as good as the movies that initially propelled him to success in the first place.
According to Deadline, the English director is returning to his roots right after he’s finished helming Disney’s upcoming live-action Aladdin remake. Titled Toff Guys, the subsequent film will follow an English drug lord who’s looking to sell his profitable operation to some American billionaires. But as we’ve found out time and time again in movies of this ilk, such plans rarely go smoothly. The movie has also been described as “the intersection of Sexy Beast and Downton Abbey,” which sounds promising under the supervision of a filmmaker like Ritchie.
Toff Guys was co-written by Ritchie in collaboration with longtime associates Marn Davies and Ivan Atkinson. Currently, no stars are attached to the project, but we can probably expect a strong ensemble of actors who are good at swearing and spouting quotable one-liners.
The title alone tells us the type of movie this is going to be. In case our non-British readers are unfamiliar with the country’s lingo, a “toff” is basically a native — and slightly derogatory — slang term for an upper-class person. Therefore, with this in mind, as well as the Downtown Abbey comparison, it’s likely that Toff Guys will feature crooks of a posher variety. Given that the criminals in Ritchie’s other gangster movies are predominantly made up of streetwise blue-collar underdogs, it’ll be interesting to see his take on a classier form of deviant.
It’s about time we got the old school Ritchie flick we’ve been waiting for since RocknRolla’s end credits promised a sequel that never came to be. Since leaving British shores to focus on big-budget Hollywood yarns, Ritchie’s movies have been a mixed bag. He got off to a flying start with 2009’s Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr., which gave Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective a well-received action-orientated makeover. In 2011 he helmed the sequel, A Game of Shadows, which wasn’t as good as the first but still managed to put butts in theaters and gross over $545 million worldwide.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E., based on the ’60s spy show of the same name, was not much of a commercial success but was a crowd-pleaser with a growing cult fandom since its home video release, but it’s a far cry from the director’s best work. That said, even though only a few people asked for it, there’s a sequel in the works. Whether it will ever happen remains to be seen.
King Arthur, meanwhile, was a critical and financial failure. I’ll forever hold the opinion that King Arthur is much better than the naysayers would lead you to believe, but the rest of the world doesn’t share that viewpoint. Still, the further Ritchie has spread his wings while ascending the ranks of Hollywood, he’s always retained some of his trademark style. Most of his big blockbusters contain some connection to the mean streets of England — so much so that he even envisioned the aforementioned king as a cockney-esque street brawler — so it was only a matter of time before he returned to his old stomping grounds.
One thing Ritchie’s Hollywood movies all have in common is that they were mined from source material that was well-established before he added his touch. One of the most exciting things about Toff Guys is the fact that it also marks his return to original storytelling for the first time since RocknRolla. With the exception of Revolver, Ritchie is at his best when he’s bringing his own unique stories to life. Toff Guys won’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s tailor-made for Ritchie’s strongest sensibilities to flourish, and fans will undoubtedly welcome him home to the criminal underworld with open arms.