For almost 25 years, Guy Ritchie has been directing stylish feature films. Best known for his British gangster films, such as: Lock, Stock and Two Smokin’ Barrels (1998), Snatch (2000), Rock n’ Rolla (2008) and The Gentlemen (2019) as well as the Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Junior.
Ritchie is often criticised for his gonzo entertainment filmmaking and his inconsistent performance at the box office. His films have received – at best — a mixed critical reception across his careeer. As a result, Ritchie is not taken very seriously as a filmmaker.
The aim of this video essay is to demonstrate that Ritchie is very much under-appreciated as a director and has a unique style worth studying.
Richie’s stylish editing can be boiled down to the concept of a ‘fast & slow’ framework using a range of experimental formal elements (speed ramps, freeze frames, slow motion, intercutting, parallel action, and superimposition) to control the temporality of his sequences. It is Ritchie’s action scenes that best showcase this use of the framework, with careful consideration for shot length and manipulation of time through the use of editing & experimental formal elements.
Ritchie employs his framework to manipulate the passage of time in his scenes, creating pauses in action that encourage contemplation. To achieve this effect, he balances the use of a faster-than-average cutting rate with moments of stillness, seamlessly transitioning between the two speeds of cutting from one moment to the next. By leveraging this framework in tandem with his experimental formal elements, Ritchie generates a singular sense of motion and movement on screen. His meticulous attention to shot selection and average shot length (ASL) yields striking moments of spectacle and action that demonstrate his playful manipulation of film form.
In recent years, Ritchie has shied away from the style of action that put him on the map substituting fast and slow action for a greater focus on narrative cadence and control, with elements of action implemented throughout his films. I would like to see Ritchie return to his style of old and see more action films using the tried and tested fast and slow framework.
— Jack Brazil
Lock, Stock and Two Smokin’ Barrels (1998), Dir. Guy Ritchie,Ska Films
Snatch (2000), Dir. Guy Ritchie,Ska Films, Columbia Pictures
Swept Away (2002), Dir. Guy Ritchie, Searchlight Pictures, Sony Pictures
Revolver (2005), Dir. Guy Ritchie, Lionsgate UK
Rock n’ Roller (2008), Dir. Guy Ritchie, Warner Bros. Pictures
Sherlock Holmes (2009), Dir. Guy Ritchie, Warner Bros. Pictures
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), Dir. Guy Ritchie, Warner Bros. Pictures
The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2015), Dir. Guy Ritchie, Warner Bros. Pictures
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017), Dir. Guy Ritchie, Warner Bros. Pictures
Aladdin (2019), Dir. Guy Ritchie, Walt Disney Pictures
The Gentlemen (2019), Dir. Guy Ritchie, Miramax
Wrath of Man (2021), Dir. Guy Ritchie, Miramax
300 (2006), Dir. Zack Snyder, Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures
Watchmen (2009), Dir. Zack Snyder, Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures
Fight Club (1999), Dir. David Fincher, Fox 2000 Pictures, 20th Century Fox
Transformers (2007), Dir. Michael Bay, Paramount Pictures
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), Dir. Matthew Vaughn, Marv Films, 20th Century Fox
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017), Dir. Matthew Vaughn, Marv Films, 20th Century Fox
Hundred Mile High City, Ocean Colour Scene. 1997 Universal Island Records. Dir. Guy Ritchie
The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall into My Mind), The Bucketheads. 1995 Henry Street Music. Dir. Guy Ritchie
Deep, Marusha. Low Spirit Recordings 1995. Dir. Guy Ritchie
A Real Love, CB Milton. 1996 Cloud 9 Music. Dir. Guy Ritchie
Rave Can Can, DJ Jacques O. 1996 Kontor New Media Music. Dir. Guy Ritchie
Upside Down, Joelle. 1995 Hansa. Dir. Guy Ritchie
The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall into My Mind), The Bucketheads. 1995 Henry Street Music.
I Wanna Be Your Dog, The Stooges. 1969 Elektra/Asylum Records.
Diamond, Klint. 2000. Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
Payback, James Brown. 1973 Polydor Records.
Fuckin’ in the Bushes, Oasis. 2000 Big Brother Recordings Ltd.
Che vuole questa musica stasera, Peppino Gadliardi. UMG (on behalf of Decca (UMO) Classics (CAM)); ASCAP, BMI – Broadcast Music Inc.
Get Down, Nas. 2002 Columbia Records
Powerbeats Pro Commercial (2019), Dir. Hiro Murai, Zambezi
Guy Ritchie Interview on Lock Stock with Charlie Rose https://youtu.be/biVd5r4i52A
Intensified Continuity Visual Style in Contemporary American Film Author(s): David Bordwell Source: Film Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 3 (Spring 2002), pp. 16-28 Published by: University of California Press
Tasker, Yvonne. The Hollywood Action and Adventure Film, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/warw/detail.action?docID=7104343.
Interpreting Music Video, Popular Music in the Post-MTV Era. Brad Osborn. 2021.
Only Entertainment. Richard Dyer. 2002. pp.64-69