Sherlock Holmes (2009) / Action-Mystery
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence and suggestive material
Running time: 128 min.
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly, Robert Maillet, Geraldine James, William Houston, Hans Matheson, James Fox
Director: Guy Ritchie
Screenplay: Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg
Review published October 23, 2010
Robert Downey Jr. (The Soloist, Iron Man) plays 1890s London detective Sherlock Holmes, who, along with his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson (Law, Sleuth), assist Scotland Yard in thwarting a human sacrifice ritual being put on by the evil Lord Blackwood (Strong, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day). For his crimes, Blackwood is hanged, vying to return more powerful than before after death. He indeed does so, appearing to have re-emerged from his grave and he appears to be hell-bent on using his formidable powers to dismantle the British government and "restore England to its former glory," including reasserting dominion of its former North American colony. With Scotland Yard stymied, a fearful public overwhelmed by awe, and an underground society of powerful men abetting Blackwood, only Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Holmes' former-flame-turned-adversary-turned-renewed-flame Irene Adler (McAdams, State of Play) stand in the way of complete domination by the dark forces at play.
A testosterone-fueled, lavishly presented iteration of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous literary sleuth is what's presented in this Guy Ritchie-directed adaptation based on a comic book that was being developed by Lionel Wigram. The film comes with that requisite cheeky charm, stylish cinematography, and dead-eyed, mumbling thugs that most Ritchie outings (Revolver, Snatch) are known for, but it probably remains his most accessible film for your average filmgoer. The film sees Sherlock Holmes more as a genius action hero, to which the film drew its share of criticism (though the filmmakers assert that Doyle's Holmes is a skilled boxer in the books), but if you can forgive the popcorn movie aspect of the traditionally more intellectual mysteries, it's just fun enough for most audiences without preconceived expectations to find an adequate entertainment thanks to an appealing cast (especially in the natural repartee between Downey and Law), excellent period art and costumes, and clever (if sometimes distracting) visual flair.
©2010 Vince Leo