As a casual fan of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novel series, I was very excited to see the character realized on screen. I’ve never really had any interest in the previous television shows and movies based on Holmes, possibly because they looked a bit stiff, and frankly, old. Granted, telling a story set in late 19th century London lends itself to such stiffness, but Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes proves you can break away from the norm.
The film starts with Holmes and his best friend and colleague Dr. Watson (Jude Law) working their last case together before Watson becomes engaged to marry (much to Holmes’ chagrin). They find Lord Blackwood, who is sacrificing women as part of the black magic he’s performing. Months later, Blackwood is hung, but seemingly comes back from the dead, looking to take over a secret society and take over the world using his magic. Only Holmes and Watson can stop him, with a little help from Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), whose boss and history with Holmes are just as mysterious as the case.
One of my biggest concerns about the film after seeing the trailers was how accurate the film would be to the Holmes universe. Those who know Ritchie’s work (Snatch, Rocknrolla, to name a few) knows he has a very unique style of filmmaking, one that is very visceral and cutting edge. The stark contrast of classic England and his style work perfectly for the film, truly bringing to life Holmes and the world he lives in. The film seems to be very accurate to the time and Holmes’ world. The landlady, street address, and many characters (Adler, Inspector Lestrade) are the same, and Holmes is portrayed with neurotic perfection by Robert Downey Jr.
Although the film is action-packed, it is also very intelligent, which is a bit surprising given that there are three writers. Usually that many cooks spoil the pot, but not here. Holmes is a genius, and the story unfolds just as brilliantly. He sees everything and instantly comes up with elaborate, yet logical plans. The film is loads of fun to watch, whether it’s the great action scenes or Holmes doing his detective thing.
In fact, my only qualms with Holmes include that things are a little to easy for the title character and his colleagues. He ALWAYS has a plan, even when fighting (which is actually pretty cool, if less dramatic). Even when there’s a serious explosion involving Holmes, Watson, and Adler, we are quickly assured the effects are not deadly. My other issue is that the story meanders a bit, as you may guess with a two hour plus film. It all comes together at the end though, in a very Holmes fashion, thus revealing insequential scenes and shots to be quite important to the mystery as a whole.
I’d say the thickness of the accents were a concern, as I didn’t catch a few lines here and there, but I guess it just comes with the territory. Thanks to a witty ending that has a very smart and exciting (for fans anyway) reveal, it’s safe to say the filmmakers were planning on turning this into a franchise. Personally, I hope they do, because I would love to see more.
Final Review: B+