Career Peak – The point in an actor, actress or director’s career when they have given their best performance, reaching a point they will probably never match again!
The idea is to examine a person’s film or television career and decide when their career peak was; the moment that they gave their best performance or produced their best work. This could be with their first movie; it could also be yet to come. It’s designed to spark friendly debate too so if you don’t agree (or do, which would also be good) then feel free to check them out and add your opinion.
Guy Ritchie’s career has changed rapidly in a short amount of time. In 1998 he was making independent, British movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and now he is helming (potentially) three separate franchises. Success doesn’t necessarily mean that his films have gotten any better and while Ritchie has quite an eclectic range of movies, he never really matched that early, unbridled potential.
Guy Ritchie – Career Peak: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
It is always really harsh to say that a person’s career peaked with their first movie but unfortunately, Guy Ritchie has never matched that early, British classic. It is stylish, well-written, has a perfectly chosen soundtrack and is very funny. It is an example of a daring, no-holds-barred director who is making a name for himself rather than following the studio machine.
As early as his second movie, the magic was already beginning to wane. Snatch was a very good film but never reached the levels of clever writing or funny dialogue that Lock, Stock did. It was darker and clearly showed a director who had matured and had more money to his disposal but this also seemed to take something away from Ritchie.
What followed was more of a vanity project than a film Ritchie should be making. Swept Away starred new wife Madonna and was a very left-field switch for Ritchie. Away from the streets of London, it was set almost entirely on a deserted island and consisted of Madonna arguing and kissing Adriano Giannini.
That decision to stray from the tried and tested which made Ritchie a hot property continued. Although Revolver starred Jason Statham, this was a departure from the light, fast-paced and well-written early movies. Revolver was a confused, convoluted mess. It had a great cast but they were bizarrely disposed and it leaves more people baffled than impressed with the writing.
Ritchie would return to his “roots” with RocknRolla. This film feels more like Snatch. A great cast, some quick-witted writing and a plot involving many different strands all coming together in a clever way. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite the return to Lock, Stock form that people would have wanted.
These small falters didn’t stop Ritchie and he made a career decision many would admire. Rather than continue to write his own, unique properties, Ritchie would fully enter the Hollywood money machine and make “cool” franchise films. He would take well-known characters and stories and add his unique style. Slow-motion, quick cuts, a cool soundtrack and bizarre angles meant that Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock Holmes felt like a breath of fresh air. Ritchie had managed to do something new with a well-worn character, although you could argue it resembles very little with anything we know about Holmes.
The same can be said for Man from UNCLE. Ritchie even said that he wasn’t using the original TV show as any sort of accurate source material so what we get instead is a stylish, well-written but ultimately all-flash, little substance spy movie. Ritchie would also release this film during the most spy saturated year in recent memory.
The future doesn’t hold much promise of a return to the Lock, Stock success. King Arthur is a story with a lot of rich source material, potential and great characters for Ritchie to utilise well. It is another franchise movie though and this doesn’t quite seem to be his forte.
Overall, Guy Ritchie started very strongly with the excellent Lock, Stock but since then has floundered in the Hollywood franchise area. There is nothing too wrong with Sherlock Holmes or Man from UNCLE but they are hardly the gritty, unique and well-written British films that started his career. Maybe a return to roots will help him find his magic once more.