Sherlock Holmes (12A)
Cast: Bronagh Gallagher, Eddie Marsan, Geraldine James, Hans Matheson, James Fox, Jude Law, Kelly Reilly, Mark Strong, Rachel McAdams, Robert Downey Jr., William Hope
Director: Guy Ritchie
Runtime: 128 minutes
Who’s to say whether Arthur Conan Doyle’s much loved, now revamped, super-sleuth would have been appreciated by the great man himself. What I can say, though, is that after watching Sherlock Holmes you’ll easily feel a funny tingling sensation which you can’t really work out is good or bad. Guy Ritchie was handed several million dollars to toy with — and play with it he did. This production combines a whole heap of tomfoolery, bare-knuckle fighting and CGI that leaves you pondering.
The story is as basic as you can get; there’s a threat against Parliament and Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr) and Dr Watson (Jude Law) have to put a stop to it. That’s it, I promise you. Going into any more detail than that would somehow be assuring you that the story is actually any good. It isn’t. But, once you see past that, you can actually let the little holes in the plot go over your head just enough to have a grin plastered on your face for the entirety of Holmes’ half-naked rollercoaster ride around Victorian London.
Downey Jr delivers the usual rebellious bohemian lifestyle from his character that we’ve all come to know and love. Holmes’ room is full of bullet holes, he’s very articulate, but hasn’t showered in days. He’s just the right amount of arrogant but also manages to show us a more sensitive side as we can see he cares very much for Watson. The usual homo-eroticism isn’t lost in this adaptation, but it’s safe to say it’s not over-done. Oh, and Holmes has a love for bare-knuckle boxing in case you didn’t know — one assumes this is Ritchie’s homage to himself and perhaps why he was asked to do the project?
The fight scenes are shot and described with such precision and then shown in admirable slow-motion techniques, that you understand why Ritchie is renowned for them. I love a good fight scene and if it means Downey Jr is half-naked for yet more of the film, I’m happy to sit back and watch. One thing will get to you, though; Downey Jr’s London accent is far from perfect and will grate on you at the most inconvenient times of sincerity or crime-solving intelligence.
Law’s Watson wasn’t all he was cracked up to be either. I’m not sure what it is about Jude Law but he isn’t growing old gracefully and honing his craft like many actors in their 40s are now doing (Johnny Depp being a prime example). Everything he does is, from an acting standpoint, is written all over his face. I can see what he’s about to do before he even bothers doing it and this doesn’t please me. He used to be very good but has now been letting his standards drop in his last few films. One thing I did like, despite my misery, is Watson and Holmes’ interactions that occur mostly in the first half of the film, where they show their love through their mutual debasing of one another. They’ll keep you amused for sure.
Holmes has his infatuation with Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) and this is portrayed with accuracy, through an American femme fatale type character. Adler’s photo is displayed for all to see in Holmes’ room – his most prized possession. She’s played with great style by McAdams, but the story that holds these two characters up is fairly weak. We know Holmes admires her without any doubt, but her character is never given a chance to develop so she remains very top-level to the audience. The antagonist, Lord Blackwood, sounds and bears resemblance to something out of Harry Potter — although, played well by Mark Strong.
Those of you that hold London in high esteem will also not be disappointed. Many wide-shots of sailing boats on the Thames will decorate your screens, as will fantastic CGI views of Tower Bridge being built. It does make you marvel at the wonderful town that is London. However, I hasten to add, if you’re a CGI nut you might start to wonder what the designers had in mind. The CGI itself looks fantastic, don’t get me wrong. But, the actors blue/green-screened onto it makes it looks incredibly feeble. I’m not sure if the intention was to make it look very dark and comic book-like, but that’s what came across and I don’t feel it adds anything to the story or feel of the film.
There are, however, many little nuances that London-lovers will enjoy; for example, the shot of the sign for Baker Street lists it as in the N.W., which it no longer is! Something that will make you chuckle and is definitely Hollywood’s addition to having a very rushed ending, is the idea that you can run from Parliament to Tower Bridge in about five minutes flat. Anyone who knows their way around town knows that this is simply poppycock.
Sherlock Holmes is most definitely a spectacle to behold. Downey Jr does a wonderful job of playing a pre-emptive super (crime-)fighting sleuth, with impressive powers of seduction.
Expect another Sherlock Holmes to be winging its way to you in the next couple of years, with Brad Pitt being the unconfirmed rumour to play Holmes’ nemesis, Moriarty.
I give Sherlock Holmes a three out of five.