Detective Sherlock Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England. The film stars Robert Downey Jr. in the title role along with Jule Law as Dr. John Watson with supporting roles from Rachel McAdams as the love interest/villain and Mark Strong as Lord Blackwood. Directed by Guy Ritchie (Revolver,Snatch)
Matt Rating: 6 out of 10
Guy Ritchie is a clever director who brings us his take on this classic and very British hero. Downey gives us a fun performance with a twinge of eccentricity and clumsiness not usually associated with Sherlock Holmes that earned him a Golden Globe. We never think of Holmes as making a fool of himself, or failing in his experiments, and Downey adds some levity to what could be a very stiff protagonist.
However, it’s a bit of a stretch to turn Holmes into a bad-ass, kung-fu fighting, muscled man who throws down with street fighters in the basement of a bar. The action scenes are sharp and fluid, but misplaced. I wanted a smart detective story that challenged me. Instead, this went with the tried and true occult villain, which could have gone into some dark and interesting places, but I was bored with him.The mystery was traded for action and gadgetry.
This film was a fun, popcorn version of Sherlock Holmes, which was entertaining enough, digestible for the masses, and worth a viewing. Just don’t expect to be blown away.
5 out of 10
Like Matt, I went in to this latest incarnation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic sleuth with great optimism, considering the excitement that the trailers generated way back to summer 2009. I really looked forward to Sherlock Holmes as an action hero, provided that they stayed true to the heart of the novel series — engaging mysteries where the audience goes on the adventure with the characters, solving the cases with them. Unfortunately, this was not to be the ‘case’ (<— pun.).
The main problem with this film is there is hardly any of that spirit in this film and it has absolutely ZERO mystery in the plot. It’s predictability has nothing to do with the clues laid out in the film, it has to do with the fact this whole contrivance of a film is nothing more than a carbon-copy of every other action film of the last decade and quite frankly, it assumes its audience is stupid.
Robert Downey, Jr., who has been given new life as an action hero thanks to Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man” franchise, is gruff and charming. Because of that gruffness he plays this new Holmes with a great deal of swagger and bravado while Jude Law’s Watson portrayal is refreshing, balanced to Holmes’ mischief, and unlike previous incarnations of the character, he is actually treated with respect and deference as a peer of Holmes. He is not a bumbling idiot to the superior Holmes like he has been for the last 70 years in these films.
Like the whole plot of the film, however, I’ve seen these characters before in every other buddy-cop film. The main villain is two-dimensional and predictable and one of the things that annoys me to no end in period films is when they stretch believability to its limit by trying to convince the audience of technology that is obviously far more advanced than possible.
But that’s just an annoyance. The real issues are the lack of mystery, and the predictability of the plot and the characters. Ironically, the only saving grace to the film are Downey and Law themselves, who despite the redundancy of their characters, manage to make them likeable.
I have to be completely straight about this: I went into this film enthusiastically, dragging my wife along (who had no interest other than the fact that she likes Downey) and I fell asleep multiple times through this snore-fest and I was sawing wood for the last ten minutes of the film. I couldn’t give a play-by-play account of the end of the film, but I can say with pretty close to absolute certainty that I can easily guess how the ending turned out.