7 best Guy Ritchie movies, ranked

 (left to right) Michelle Dockery and Matthew McConaughey in The Gentlemen.
(left to right) Michelle Dockery and Matthew McConaughey in The Gentlemen.

Trying to explain Guy Ritchie’s career is a fascinating task. The English filmmaker rose to prominence in the late 90s and early 2000s with crime capers, including “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch.” After a series of misfires — notably “Swept Away” starring his then-wife Madonna — Ritchie transitioned to big-budget films, anchored by two “Sherlock Holmes” films. It’s almost inconceivable that the filmmaker behind “Snatch,” a gritty gangster comedy, also directed “Aladdin,” a fantasy blockbuster backed by Disney.

Ritchie has proven his trademark style works in many genres, from B-movies to studio films. Quick-witted dialogue, unrestrained characters, and high-energy action are engrained in Ritchie’s filmography. Not everything works, but every Ritchie movie is unapologetically him, backed by his distinct, in-your-face filmmaking style.

With the release of “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare,” we ranked Ritchie’s seven best films.

7. 'Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant'

Don’t let the poor box office results confuse you — “Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant” is a solid war film with a compelling premise. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as U.S. Master Sergeant John Kinley, while Dar Salim plays Ahmed, the interpreter assigned to Kinley’s unit in Afghanistan. After a devastating injury to Kinley, Ahmed risks his life to transport the sergeant to safety through Taliban-occupied areas.

Weeks later, Ahmed and his family are now the target of the Taliban, forcing Kinley to go back to Afghanistan to save his friend. While Ritchie’s films are typically comedic crime capers, “The Covenant” is surprisingly emotional, with a heavy message about the U.S. government's failure to protect translators. Politics aside, “The Covenant” is a satisfying watch, backed by the chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Salim.

Watch on Prime Video

6. ‘Wrath of Man’

“Wrath of Man” is a reunion for Ritchie and star muse Jason Statham, marking their first film together in 16 years. Based on the French film “Cash Truck,” “Wrath of Man” stars Statham as Patrick “H” Hill, an Englishman who takes a job in security as an armored truck guard. When assailants attempt to steal the money from the truck, H disposes of the crew easily thanks to his elite marksman skills. H is not a typical security guard. He took this job for one reason: to exact revenge on those who wronged him.

On the surface, “Wrath of Man” seems like the perfect film for Ritchie’s style. It’s a heist film featuring a macho, tough-guy protagonist hellbent on vengeance. Yet, “Wrath of Man” does not include the snappy dialogue and colorful characters of Ritchie’s previous films. This is arguably Ritchie’s darkest film, with little humor. It’s a welcome surprise for Ritchie, proving he can direct a serious action thriller.

Watch on Prime Video

5. ‘Sherlock Holmes’

What if Sherlock Holmes was an action hero? That question is the basis for how Ritchie adapted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic character. Starring in the role of the illustrious detective is Robert Downey Jr., who injects attitude, wittiness, and personality into Holmes. In other words, it’s Downey being Downey, a.k.a., the most charming man in the room. Starring alongside him is Jude Law as Dr. John Watson, Holmes’s right-hand man. Their mission: to find and stop Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), a murderer using supernatural means to terrorize London.

While detective work is secondary to the action, “Sherlock Holmes” rests on the capable shoulders of Downey and Law, whose humor and chemistry make for a compelling duo. It also proved that Ritchie could deliver when given a studio budget, setting the stage for the next decade of his career.

Watch on Apple TV Plus

4. ‘The Gentlemen’

Before becoming a popular TV series on Netflix, “The Gentlemen” was a film that premiered just before the start of the pandemic. Matthew McConaughey stars as Mickey Pearson, an American entrepreneur who became a marijuana kingpin in London. When Mickey wants to sell his business and retire with his wife, several menacing figures, including “Dry Eye” (Henry Golding), attempt to undermine and steal his empire.

After a decade-long drought, “The Gentlemen” signaled Ritchie's return to the genre that put him on the map. “The Gentlemen” plays like a greatest hits album for Ritchie, with nonlinear storytelling, sharp and edgy dialogue, and distinguishable characters. All in all, Ritchie’s fans will be satisfied with "The Gentlemen."

Rent/buy on Amazon or Apple

3. ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’

“Snatch” perfected Ritchie’s crime caper technique, but “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” provided the blueprint for his success. Serving as Ritche’s feature film directorial debut, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” finds four friends (Jason Statham, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran, and Jason Flemyng) in serious debt after losing a high-stakes poker game. Desperate for money, the four lads hear their neighbors planning to steal money from drug dealers. Once the neighbors execute the robbery, the quartet plans to rob their neighbors of the money they stole.

Upon its release, Ritchie drew comparisons to Quentin Tarantino. Some similarities – crime caper, standout dialogue, and rambunctious characters – between the two directors are fair comparisons. However, Ritchie’s 20-plus-year career has proved to audiences that his signature style can stand on its own, and it all started with “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”

Rent/buy on Amazon or Apple

2. ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’

“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is Ritchie’s version of James Bond. The stylish espionage film is based on the television series from the 1960s. Set during the Cold War, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” stars Henry Cavill as CIA agent Napoleon Solo, and Armie Hammer as KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). The two agents form an uneasy alliance and work with Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), the daughter of a kidnapped nuclear scientist, to stop a criminal organization from building a nuclear bomb.

While many of Ritchie’s films focus on bromance, adding a woman to form a tricky love triangle proved to be a winning combination. “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is beautiful to watch, from the style and scenery to the cars and fashion. Because of the disappointing box office, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is one of Ritchie’s most underrated films, one worthy of a sequel.

Rent/buy on Amazon or Apple

1. ‘Snatch’

This is Ritchie’s magnum opus. Everything audiences have come to love about Ritchie is at its highest form in “Snatch.”In London’s criminal underworld, “Snatch” revolves around two intertwined plots. One involves Turkish (Jason Statham), a boxing promoter who gets into trouble with crime lord Brick Top (Alan Ford) after one of his boxers, the erratic Mickey O’Neil, fails to throw a fight. The other plot involves a diamond heist with eccentric characters like Frankie Four Fingers (Benicio del Toro) and Bullet Tooth Tony (Vinnie Jones).

Ritchie’s hallmarks are scattered throughout “Snatch,” from memorable characters with unique names to nonlinear storytelling and animated dialogue. Ritchie took what worked in “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and multiplied it by ten. It’s extravagant and excessive in the best way. No one makes comedy crime capers better than Ritchie. Bonus points to anyone who understands a single thing Pitt says.

Watch on Prime Video

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