Oh, where to begin? After all, this name has spawned 56 short stories and 4 novels from the original author, countless others who’ve attempted to write their own Holmes, over 200 actors having played the detective since his premiere in 1897 and now, at last, the latest movie adaptation starring Robert Downey Jr. (Holmes), Jude Law (Watson), Rachel McAdams (Irene Adler), and Mark Strong (Lord Blackwood) with direction and production courtesy of Guy Ritchie.
One of the most commonly used words I’ve found to describe this film is “action-packed” or “action-oriented.” Now, many a Sherlockian will find themselves in fear that the film has been dumbed down in regards to story, character development, and detective work taking a backseat to the things that go boom. Fortunately, it’s not the case as I found the action and intelligence to complement each other quite well, much like Holmes and Watson do. Together, Downey Jr. and Law have created a new version of the original dynamic duo that entertains and instills a deep sense of camaraderie far beyond the previous conception of the hero and his sidekick. RDJ is an entertaining, original, and clever Holmes and is an inspired choice as the world’s greatest detective. Law delivers as Watson and provides a superb foil to Holmes. The chemistry between the two is immediate, and it’s for that main reason that the movie works so well.
The action is satisfying save for one occurrence of extended slow-motion. The acting was spot on for the most part and well cast. The story, while not overtly complicated, was engaging and intriguing with more than a few references and quotes straight from Doyle’s stories. The setting is wonderfully executed; London is a sprawling city that serves as an ideal vessel for Holmes’ ventures. Finally, the ending leaves the door open for multiple sequels with the inclusion of Professor Moriarty, Holmes’ most worthy adversary which I look forward to expectantly. Guy Ritchie has delivered an encouraging start to what will hopefully become a very successful franchise and earns 4 stars for its efforts. ****
Review by Alisa Heskin
I’ve found that there is a certain difficulty in using an established character, let alone an iconic one at that, because there’s already a certain amount of expectations because of what’s previously been done. However, Sherlock Holmes is a contradicting character, both vague and defined and, therefore, is open to a wider differentiation of how the character is handled and those surrounding him and I believe that the filmmakers use this to their full advantage.