Dexian Wang
by Dexian Wang

In the world of movie directors, having a distinct style counts for a lot. And few directors possess a more recognisable style than Guy Ritchie. Before he directed Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels in 1998, Ritchie attended boarding school and left at age 15. He then worked his way up the film industry, from entry-level jobs to directing commercials. In 1995, he shot The Hard Case, a twenty-minute short that impressed investors enough for them to finance Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.

With The Gentlemen hailed as a return to classic Ritchie, there's no better time to do a deep dive into Guy Ritchie's favourite cinematic flourishes.

*We won't be talking about Swept Away (2002) or Aladdin (2019), as both films represent stylistic departures for Guy Ritchie.


1. We talkin' stylish fisticuffs

Guy Ritchie loves a sleek, effects-laden combat sequence. In both Snatch (2000), and Sherlock Holmes (2009), bare-knuckle boxing fights are featured. In the latter, he uses slo-mo to showcase Sherlock's analytical skills. In Revolver (2005), Ritchie uses wipes to help display the character's whereabouts in a shootout taking place across several rooms and floors.


2. Go ahead and JUMP!

A mainstay in Guy Ritchie's storytelling sequence is the jump cut. The man loves a jump cut-filled montage that speeds up the process of delivering little bits of information or detail. One example is the opening to RocknRolla (2008). The narrator talks about what it means to be a "Rocknrolla"... sex, drugs, thrills, while the visuals jump from one of those things to another.

Another example is the montage involving "The Formula" in Revolver. Quick cuts to the past quickly interject in between the action on the chessboard. The movie simultaneously explains the idea while showing how it also came about.


3. Bit by bit

Ritchie's plots often involve what I term "full circle" storytelling. They usually begin by dropping you in the middle of the story and challenge you to catch up via non-linear storytelling. Reveals often occur through flashbacks or a loop/retelling of an earlier scene from a different perspective. In both Sherlock Holmes and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the title character has to explain what happened in the events first presented on the screen for the audience to fully comprehend what just happened. Ritchie's first two feature films, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch (2000) also do this to a certain degree, except through the use of multiple character perspectives. The different sets of characters help weave together a complicated of events together into a narrative.


4. Quirks

Guy Ritchie sure enjoys quirky characters. Just about every memorable Ritchie character has a trait that's a slightly off. Most notable of them all is probably Snatch's Mickey O'Neil. Played by Brad Pitt, he has a comically hard to understand accent. Other memorable ones: Crime boss Hatchet Harry from Lock, Stock has a short-temper, while Sherlock Holmes suffers from egomania.