Oh, Guy Ritchie, you gave us Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, two films, though the exact same genre and style, that were actually quite entertaining. I didn’t see Rocka Rolla, and we just won’t talk about that debacle you made with your then wife, Madonna. So, you know, people seem to generally dig your style. But that is also the big question about taking on Sherlock Holmes; will your style work for this well-known character? Of course there were doubts. Any one that’s a die-hard fan of the character as played by, say, Basil Rathbone, might have trouble accepting a more contemporary, edgy, and perhaps less tightly wound, Holmes.
Holmes and Watson are on the case of the devious Lord Blackwood. He has a nefarious plan to make England the rulers of the world with himself at the helm. He appears to be using magic to do it. Someone has to stop him. As Holmes says, the game is afoot.
The Guy Ritchie style doesn’t hinder the film at all. He uses his signature slow motion at the appropriate times, rather than every five minutes. Many characters over the years have been given make-overs and Sherlock Holmes was going to get it eventually. I think it’s about time, frankly. Robert Downey, Jr. makes the most of the character and the ability to have fun with him. I thought the trailers were rather misleading in that they made Holmes look more hedonistic and wild. If anyone else felt that and was wary, fear not. Downey, Jr. does a great job of giving us a Sherlock Holmes we recognize while giving him some updated eccentricities. And thankfully does a respectable English accent. I can’t begin to tell you how elated I am that no one thought Kevin Costner would be acceptable in this role. I would have cried first followed by shaking my fist at the sky and screaming – during the movie. The whole movie.
The indispensable Dr. Watson is played by Jude Law, who indeed makes the character indispensable. No more befuddled side-kick caricature. This Watson is a learned doctor, an able pugilist, and certainly no dummy. Yet he is still the grounded half to Holmes’ eccentric genius.
The production design is great. There’s no question as to the era or location, nor was I ever taken out of the film. The actors are excellent all around. Even Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler offers something more than just her pretty face. And happily, the plot isn’t full of nonsense or gaping holes in logic. Perhaps even more importantly, it is very much what one would expect from a Sherlock Holmes plot. It is a mystery, a thriller, but also an action film, sprinkled with humor, so very deftly handled by Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law.
Also, in case you were concerned, and who wouldn’t be, the Sherlock Holmes portrayed here is indeed the deductive genius his reputation describes. We wouldn’t want a dopey Holmes, now would we? However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some tweaks to his character for this update. Face it, there are going to be some things some people don’t like. Can’t please all of the people all of the time. But it’s still fun, so suck it up, Arthur Conan Doyle snobs!
Ultimately this is a really fun film. It won’t win any awards, but you will have a good time. It’s a big popcorn movie. Just turn off your brain and enjoy the stylish, entertaining ride. Most definitely Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law are excellently cast. And indeed, it is set up as a first of a franchise. So, expect to see more of this team to make a crap load of money from us. If future installments are this good, the masses will be happy to contribute. And so will I.
—Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, agreeing that the game is indeed, afoot.