Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong
Synopsis: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s super sleuth is given a new polish, Guy Ritchie style. This is an action adventure romp mixed with mystery. Holmes’ adversary is Lord Blackwood, a practitioner of dark arts whom apparently has risen from the dead to wreak havoc with Victorian era London. The race is on to discover by which cloak and dagger methods Blackwood is performing his impossible feats.
A review by Film Nerd.
Expectations are inextricably linked with the film going experience. How often has it been when expectations are low, you walk away from a film pleasantly surprised, or vice versa?? For some franchises, the expectation arises from former knowledge with the brand. So when the familiar is looked at from a different angle, the success of the film rests on the audiences ability to accept this new vision. It worked for James Bond and for Star Trek, but a re-imagined King Arthur featuring the titular character as a Roman soldier did quite poorly at the box office.
Sherlock Holmes is a perfect example of this phenomenon. For years audiences are familiar with the Holmes of previous film versions, a reserved sleuth solving almost impossible crimes, and are familiar to a lesser extent with the same character from Doyle’s novels. So taking that image and making him an action hero is certainly a new perspective. Simply put, if you can accept that premise, then this is a brilliant film, though I can understand for those who cannot accept this, this film is a disappointment.
I am in the former camp, as I am well aware FourthVerse is too (I hope to see her review of this film up here at some point!!). I love Downey Jr.’s portayal oh Holmes. He is still brilliant and methodical, and he applies these talents to coming out best in a scrap, but he is also an eccentric slob. As with the Iron Man franchise, Downey Jr. is continuing to remind us what a delight it is to see him back on form again. Add into this mix Law’s Watson. Having seen action as an officer in India, he is just as willing to throw himself into the action, a refreshing look at the character who for years has been relegated to the role of Holmes elderly, often portly sidekick. But this film is best when the two of them are together. It is a film more about their relationship than anything else, and this was a very wise choice. Rachel McAdams love interest serves its purpose, but despite being talented, for me she did not always fit in the proceeding of this film. Mark Strong’s Blackwood is a great villain, but more time with him on-screen would have also been to the film’s benefit.
In the end, this film is a sum of its individual parts. Ritchie’s touch is very clear, and despite it being set in Victorian London, its knowing nods to the audience make you expect to see Turkish pop up around the next street corner (if you haven’t seen Snatch, ignore that comment!). But enjoyment does rest on whether you are interested in seeing a Guy Ritchie film in the first place. It is a style I enjoyed, but the film did leave me wanting more at the end. I suppose that is a good thing, given that a sequel is so clearly sign-posted!
3 stars (out of a possible 5)