Review by J.T. Johnson
Guy Ritchie directs Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in a new take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s super sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. Gone is the familiar image of Holmes in a deerstalker with a magnifying glass in hand. What remains is an action packed mystery for modern day audiences that cannot be ignored.
The film opens up with Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) stopping Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) from performing a sacrifice ritual just in time. After being arrested, Blackwood is sentenced to death, but not before warning Holmes that death will not stop Blackwood and that three murders will occur in which Holmes can do nothing about.
Beyond capturing Blackwood, however, Holmes is bored out of his mind while also being frustrated that Watson has met a woman named Mary (Kelly Reilly) and they intend to be married with Watson moving out of the apartment. This is when Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), the only person who has managed to fool Holmes twice before, offers him a case. The game is afoot, indeed.
The first and best thing about this film is Downey Jr. and his portrayal of Holmes. He plays the detective in a weird and quirky way yet also maintains all of the wit that audiences know and love about the character. This Holmes is also a much stronger version of the character that has plenty of fight in him.
Downey Jr. makes it great to watch this character whether he is quickly explaining a revelation about the case or fighting a man on the docks that is twice his size. The performance is serious and humorous in all of the right places and the actor once again shows his skill at balancing all the different levels of his character.
He also works extremely well with Law as Dr. Watson, a character that is also stronger than has been portrayed in past films. Law plays Watson as a man who is more frustrated by Holmes than impressed. He has worked with Holmes for awhile now and can’t seem to take it anymore. However, he does still maintain a certain level of respect for Holmes and can never stay away for too long. Law’s character is more of a brother to Holmes and that means he must suffer both the good and the bad.
Ritchie has done a great job at making a more modern Holmes for today’s audience and given the film the same gritty style that his past films also contain. He has made Sherlock Holmes an exciting character and one that should continue in future films.
The film is not without its flaws, though. First off, the middle act does drag for a little bit and the audience can feel the time beginning to crawl. The movie’s first and third acts more than make up for it in the end.
Also, some of the action scenes contain extremely shaky camerawork. They’re not all bad, but it was kind of frustrating to watch the well choreographed fights while the camera is jerking around.
Finally, the ending contains a very obvious set-up for a sequel that the film could have really done without. It’s not a surprise that filmmakers would want to continue this as a series of films, it just would have been better had the script stayed focused on the plot for this film. Despite its few flaws, however, a great performance by Downey Jr. and company make this an exciting film that audiences should definitely enjoy this holiday season.