Writer/Director Guy Ritchie has been delivering sleek, cheeky, purely British movies to audiences since the late 90s, and his four upcoming projects show no signs of him slowing down. His distinctive brand of singsongy dialogue, larger-than-life characters, and intricately-woven narratives have built him a reputation all his own. The next chapter of his career looks to explore new thematic territory while still harkening back to his London-underworld roots.
After linking up with producer Matthew Vaughn, Ritchie started his feature career off hot with two crime comedies that would define his unique style: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), and Snatch (2000). After a critical lull, Ritchie jumped to larger projects, helming the RDJ-led Sherlock Holmes films and eventually taking the reins on billion-dollar-grosser Aladdin (2019). Ritchie returned to crime comedies with The Gentlemen (2020), a Matthew McConaughey vehicle that earned critical and commercial success.
And looking forward, Ritchie has his eyes set on projects which build upon his established talents while also venturing into new territory. Wrath of Man (2021) sees Ritchie adapting a 2004 French action-thriller film and reuniting with Jason Statham for the fourth time. Statham is also attached to Five Eyes, which began shooting in early 2021 and marks Ritchie’s first foray into spy films since The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015). Ritchie is also developing a television adaptation of The Gentlemen with Miramax TV, and he’s been attached to direct the WWII story The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.
First is the only of these upcoming projects to have had a set release date, which was pushed from January 15th to later this year due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Wrath of Man adapts the 2004 French action-thriller film Cash Truck and follows Jason Statham’s mysterious leading man simply referred to as “H.” H works at a cash truck company responsible for moving millions of dollars a day securely around the Los Angeles area.
Not much beyond this premise is known about the film as of yet, but of note are some of the interesting casting choices. While the original French film included Jean Dujardin (The Artist, The Wolf of Wall Street) in its cast, this upcoming group includes Statham, Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, The Fate of the Furious), and the musician Post Malone among others.
Statham is also aboard the global espionage thriller Five Eyes, which began shooting in January of 2021. Like U.N.C.L.E. before it, this film pairs two reluctant partners from different agencies—this time Britain’s MI6 and the American CIA—united under the global intelligence alliance ‘Five Eyes’. Their mission: to disrupt an arms deal involving new weapons technology which would threaten the world order.
Among this film’s announced cast are Hugh Grant (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Gentlemen), Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Recreation, Happiest Season), and Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride, Robin Hood: Men in Tights), as reported by Deadline. Elwes’ character will serve as the director of Statham & company’s mission, filling the sort of “M” role in Bond terms. The film is penned by Gentlemen story contributors Ivan Atkinson and Mark Davies alongside Ritchie.
After The Gentlemen grossed $155M on a $22M budget, Miramax TV was eager to further develop the IP’s critical and commercial success. Interestingly enough, according to Deadline, The Gentlemen was originally pitched as a series, so in a way the project has come full-circle. Ritchie joins an ever-growing list of high-profile film directors to lend their talents of television, as he will write and direct the series.
The cast and plot details of the series itself are yet unknown, but the film The Gentlemen followed an American ex-pat in London (Matthew McConaughey) trying to liquidate his lucrative underground marijuana business. With the scent of money in the air, all manner of vibrant characters jostle for power in the wake of this kingpin’s imminent retirement, including those portrayed by Jeremy Strong, Colin Farrell, and Henry Golding. It’s unclear as to whether any of the original players from The Gentlemen will return for the series, but with Ritchie involved there’ll be no shortage of intrigue.
Paramount Pictures has had the rights to Damien Lewis’ book Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: How Churchill’s Secret Warriors Set Europe Ablaze and Gave Birth to Modern Black Ops since 2015, and as of late February 2021, they’ve attached Guy Ritchie to direct. The book tells the story of Winston Churchill’s “Special Operations Executive” organization, formed in retaliation to Germany’s pummeling of England in 1939. The group broke gentlemanly rules of engagement to win strategic victories against the Nazis, participating in missions that would likely get them killed. As such, they became a tight-knit team of operatives who paved the way for similar outfits in later conflicts.
The story affords Ritchie an opportunity to provide his take on the WWII genre, which could easily result in the most enjoyable re-imagination of the era since Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. The operatives seem a perfect fit for Ritchie’s ability to write colorful characters, and there’s little doubt he’ll lend an authentically ‘British’ tone to their situation. While there’s no timetable released for this project as of yet, Guy Ritchie clearly has more than enough on his plate to placate fans for the foreseeable future.