After a four year break away from the big screen, the one-time Mr. Madonna is about to hit us with a one-two punch. This month, he’s got two of the most handsome new actors – Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer – forced to team up in ‘60s spy caper throwback ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’, and then July 2016 sees an all-star cast in his take on a classic tale with ‘Knights Of The Roundtable: King Arthur’. Below, we give a once over to the very interesting career of Guy Ritchie…

This little known 20 minute short was Ritchie’s first film, it grabbed the attention of the rock star Sting & his wife Trudie Styler, who agreed to invest in the director’s debut feature, ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’, which was based on this original short film.

In the wake of Tarantino’s ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’, crime was very much back in fashion in cinema in the mid to late ‘90s. Knowing when to strike when the iron was hot, Ritchie exploded on to the scene with this stylised and knowingly funny London set thriller. For anyone surprised at Jason Statham’s comedic timing in this summer’s ‘Spy’ need look no further than this for a reminder that he was in fact ALWAYS funny.

SNATCH (2000)
After his calling card of ‘Lock Stock’, Hollywood came knocking, but instead of rushing off to the States for his follow-up, Ritchie made them come work in his backyard. Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro and Dennis Farina joined the ranks of this sprawling crime-and-con comedy, but even with these heavy hitters, the real stars were Vinnie Jones’ practically bullet-proof hitman, and Alan Ford as the immensely terrifying big bad guy Brick Top.

The year 2000 saw Ritchie marry Madonna and direct the accompanying video for her single ‘What It Feels Like For A Girl’. Two years later, this “comedy” “romance” hit cinemas, with Madonna playing a spoiled socialite (ahem) who is stranded on a Mediterranean island with a communist sailor. It was a failure in every way a movie can be a failure, and let us never speak of it again.

An inexplicably odd movie, one which features action-aholic Luc Besson as a co-writer, the idea of Ritchie heading to Vegas with Jason Statham, Ray Liotta and Andre 3000 for a life-or-death round of gambling sounds like it should have worked. Unfortunately, the entire thing was weighed down with so much heavy-handed existentialism and brain-numbing dialogue, it remains a bizarre blip on his CV. Thankfully, a return to form was right around the corner…


In the same year that he and Madge split ways, Ritchie was back in his comfort zone. A London set crime thriller with a killer cast – Gerard Butler, Idris Elba, Thandie Newton, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Toby Kebbell, Ludacris, Jeremy Piven, Tom Wilkinson – this was the Guy that we knew and loved. Ritchie gets a lot of praise for Lock, Stock and Snatch, while ‘RockNRolla’ gets overshadowed by the likes of ‘Layer Cake’, but it is definitely one that deserves a revisit. Seeing what he could accomplish with a bigger budget, it wasn’t long before Hollywood came calling again…

One year after ‘Zodiac’, ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Tropic Thunder’ thrust Robert Downey Jnr back into the A-List, Richie cast him as History’s Greatest Detective in his period-set but very modern-minded take on the literary hero. We can probably source this movie as the reason behind Benedict Cumberbatch’s take in 2010, the US TV hit Jonny Lee Miller/Lucy Liu version that kicked off in 2012, and Sir Ian McKellan tackling ‘Mr. Holmes’ earlier this year.


After the first one made $524 million on a $90 million budget, a sequel was inevitable. Doubling down on the great chemistry between Downey and his loyal Watson played brilliantly by Jude Law, ‘A Game Of Shadows’ also made some very brave story choices (bye, Rachel McAdams!) and after all the rumours of everyone from Brad Pitt to Richard E Grant, they nailed the casting of Moriarty with an immensely evil turn by Jared Harris.

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
Ritchie directs current Superman aka Henry Cavill (playing Napoleon Solo) and one-time Lone Ranger aka Armie Hammer (playing Illya Kuryakin) as the two top agents of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. In the TV show, they fought the unfortunately titled terrorist group THRUSH, but this time around they’ve got to deal with Hugh Grant, Jared Harris, this year’s hottest new star Alicia Vikanders and a rumoured cameo by none other than David Beckham. Between this, the new ‘Mission: Impossible’ and Bond’s return in ‘SPECTRE’ hitting this Winter, 2015 is very much The Year Of The Spy!

THE MAN FROM UNCLE is now showing in Irish cinemas
Words – Rory Cashin