Viewed – 19 May 2010 Blu-ray
I will always say you can’t go wrong with Robert Downey Jr, arguable one of the most gifted and enjoyable to watch actors of his generation, he often livens up even the weakest movies and when script, character and actor come together it can be something to behold (Kiss, Kiss Bang, Bang anyone?), so when I heard he was stepping into the shoes of the East End sleuth, I was more than confident he would deliver the goods. Less confident was I when I heard that Guy Ritchie was at the helm, following his awful return to cockney-geezer gangster movie with the lamentable Rocknrolla.
Yet I shouldn’t have been too worried. The story has Holmes and his faithful crime fighting friend Dr Watson (a brilliant Jude Law) in turn of the century London up against a disgraced Lord who dabbles in black magic, and set forth solving a mystery after said Lord seemingly cheats death. What impressed me was that instead of making Holmes some sort of action-hero (for the most part), the script focused on his genius crime solving methods and intricate eye for details and clues, delivered effortlessly by an excellent Downey Jr. Law lends support as a tougher, more modern interpretation of Watson closer to Conan Doyle’s original character than the bumbling old man you may be used to, and with Mark Strong on hand as the sinister Lord, the cast is fleshed out and jumping off the screen. Love interest Rachel McAdams offers a spunky career thief and someone to outwit Holmes but any bed hopping is thankfully avoided as the two instead choose to spar and bicker endlessly. Ritchie’s film is full of style, with a great soundtrack and some brilliant period detail. He also handles the action masterfully, which did surprise me, but proves that Snatch wasn’t just a fluke.
The old story of the Templars and shady secret organisations may be a cheap villainous cliché nowadays, and Mark Strong is getting a little too familair as a bad guy (I almost expected Hit Girl to turn up). Also at times some set pieces (such as the warehouse fire) seem rather random and a little old fashioned. Yet these are small gripes in what is otherwise a very well put together movie that is sure to spawn a franchise.
Verdict: 4 /5
A plot based around what you call a “villianous cliché” is a major negative for any movie, but Sherlock Holmes commits the additional crime of spurning Doyle’s 4 novels and 36 short stories. By passing over the originality and wit of Doyle’s works, the screenwriters took the easy way out, delivering a bland and contrived plot simple enough for even the lowest IQ’s in the audience. The “genius crime solving methods” you mention cross into science-fiction; go pick up The Hound of the Baskervilles for a more puzzling criminal investigation. Critic Roger Ebert said: “The less I thought about Sherlock Holmes the more I liked [it]”; but how do you turn off your brain to watch a movie about a character whose most memorable quality is logic?
I think Roger Ebert made a good point about this one. Honestly they made what is otherwise a very stuffy character more palletable to the mainstream, and above all else, the movie is a great deal of fun. Maybe Holmes afficianados may find stuff to fault, but as a movie it entertains and has enough personality of its own to be worthy of anyones time.
Thanks for the visit.