One of the most enjoyable filmmakers of the last two decades has been British director Guy Ritchie. Beginning his career on the independent scene, Ritchie’s first few films gained prominence with the rise of DVD sales. His choice to make fun gangster/crime films certainly left a mark on the industry and would inspire directors like Matthew Vaughn to do the same. Ritchie’s scripts featured easy to shoot comedies that drew heavily from Coen brothers/Tarantino style crime films.
Ritchie has developed his own style that looks to be on display in “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” his new film opening this week. Charlie Hunnam seems like the latest star who can chew through a Ritchie script, and it’s going to be interesting to see the result. With this in mind, what are your favorite Guy Ritchie films? We’ve picked a few of our own to start. Let us know yours in the comments below and on the Awards Circuit Message Boards!
1. “Snatch” (2000)
“Snatch” is the film that quickly gained Ritchie his reputation as a strong director of crime capers. While “Lock Stock” came out first, the impressive cast that came to play drew a lot of eyes to Ritchie’s work. Perhaps the best performance in a Ritchie film is Brad Pitt, who slays as the unintelligible Mickey O’Neil. It’s an amazing role that allows Pitt to show off his acting ability, while also showcasing his trademark charisma at its peak. Pitt represents only one of a half-dozen stories that collide in this film, centered around Jason Statham and Stephen Graham. With so many moving parts, there’s a lot of places where “Snatch” could have gone wrong. Instead, Ritchie directed his best film, which remains one of the great crime films of the early 2000s.
2. “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998)
Ritchie’s first film remains one of his best. The film follows a group of friends after one of their own loses a big hand to a loan shark. While the group engages in small time crime, namely street games, the loss forces them into an already in progress crime involving enforcers, drug dealers and stolen shotguns. The film is an absolute delight and lays the groundwork for Ritchie’s style. It also is the film debut for both Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham. The two are incredibly effective as characters here and give the audience a glimpse of the star power that Statham would possess within a couple of years. An all around fun film, “Lock, Stock” remains one of the best of Ritchie’s career.
3. “Sherlock Holmes” (2009)
Ritchie has worked with a lot of strong actors over the years, and “Sherlock Holmes” is an excellent example. Robert Downey Jr. stars as the world-famous detective and owns the screen in every scene. Jude Law is also extremely effective as Watson and gives the audience an excellent straight man for RDJ to play off of. Other stars are along for the ride as well, including Rachel McAdams and Mark Strong, and both excel in their roles. The film also shows that Ritchie can apply his trademark style to period pieces, which bodes well for “King Arthur.” While “Sherlock Holmes” is certainly flawed in some aspects, it’s an undeniably fun ride that was a return to form for Ritchie after some stumbles in the mid-2000s.