Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
on 24 February 2014
Like everyone else in the world, I instantly went cross-eyed at the idea of Guy Ritchie making a Sherlock Holmes movie.
Sure enough, this is not your dad's Sherlock. Or your grandpa's either. "Sherlock Holmes" is a thoroughly eccentric take on the legendary detective -- energetic, action-packed and clever, with more than a hint of steampunk and black magic. It gets kind of silly at times, but Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law keep the story going strong.
As the story opens, a young woman is about to be sacrificed in a black magic ritual by the evil Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong). However, Sherlock Holmes (Downey) and Watson (Law) thwart him just in time for the police to arrive. Three months later, Blackwood is executed -- but not before he tells Holmes that three more people will die, and the world will change.
But then his tomb is broken open... from the inside. And at the same time, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) tries to hire Holmes to track down a man who is then found dead in Blackwood's tomb. As Holmes tries to unravel this case, he discovers the existence of a strange upper-crust magical cult, who are slowly being killed off by Blackwood's mysterious powers. Has Sherlock Holmes run up against supernatural forces he cannot explain or fight?
This is not an adaptation of one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories -- this is more a movie that takes the IDEA of Sherlock Holmes and applies it to a big, bombastic, quirky action movie. Ritchie directs the movie with a sharp, kinetic style, and he keeps things from getting too stuffy with lots of fight scenes (including Holmes mapping out every fight in his head before throwing a punch).
His steampunky vision of London has a lot of dark, dripping corners, and Ritchie happily trots Sherlock and Watson down into them -- river boats, Parliament's basement, and grimy rituals down in some catacombs. The movie's biggest problem is that the action sometimes gets silly, such as the massive fight at the shipyard in which Holmes and Watson almost get run over by a ship.
But he balances out all the action with plenty of funny moments (Holmes repeatedly paralyzing poor Gladstone) and witty dialogue ("No girl wants to marry a doctor who can't tell if a man's dead or not!"). This is definitely a movie that loves Holmes at his most eccentric.
The main reason this works so well is because of Downey. He is probably one of the best actors of our age, and he gives Sherlock a bright-eyed, quirky, almost manic energy, as well as a touch of Asperger's (he literally CANNOT understand why Watson would want to get married and retire from crimefighting). You can truly believe that this guy has a brain like a supercomputer.
Law also gives an excellent performance as a young, vital Watson who seems to have a love-hate relationship with Holmes -- they're best friends, but Holmes' eccentricities are driving him nuts. Rachel McAdams gives a solid performance as Holmes' lady thief ex-girlfriend, and Mark Strong is wonderfully, sonorously sinister as the villain, who may or may not be a sorcerer.
"Sherlock Holmes" isn't actually based on any Sherlock Holmes stories, but Guy Ritchie's sharp-edged direction and Downey's quirky performance make it a fun experience. Just try to swallow the sillier action scenes.