Sherlock Holmes


Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Written by:Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly, Hans Matheson
Released: December 26, 2009
Grade: B-

Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr) has done it again.  With the help of loyal assistant, Dr John Watson (Law), they have captured Lord Blackwood (Strong), a crafty serial killer who practices the “dark arts”.  Lord Blackwood is sent to the gallows and the people of London can now sleep much easier.  Case closed.

If you think that Holmes is going to celebrate this success… then think again.  With no major mysteries left to be solved, Holmes is bored and depressed.  He’s couped himself up in his home and shut himself off from the rest of the world.  To make matters worse, Watson has announced his engagement to a young lady named Mary (Reilly) and has told Holmes that he’s retiring from the dangerous world of sleuthing.

Never fear.  Things are about to get a lot more interesting for Holmes and Watson.  Word is spreading that Lord Blackwood has returned from the grave.  How can this be?  They both saw him hang and Watson declared him dead after checking his pulse.  Not all is what it seems and the dynamic duo must work together again to solve one final case.

Let’s start with the positives and the clear standout is the performance of Robert Downey Jr.  He breathes life into Holmes with his funny expressions and quirky mannerisms.  He also brings the best out of Jude Law (who I’ve been a bit iffy about in recent years).  A friend at the preview screening had similar thoughts and declared that “the reason I enjoyed Sherlock Holmes is that I didn’t hate Jude Law.”   They are some powerful words.

I must quickly digress to comment on Robert Downey Jr and his film career.  After battling substance abuse problems in the late 1990s, he “reinvented” himself and is now one of the world’s top box-office drawcards.  Iron Man was one of the biggest hits of 2008 and his role in Tropic Thunder earned him an Academy Award nomination (which is not easy to do for a comedic performance).  Downey Jr is not afraid of low-budget, independent films either and you only need see Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or A Scanner Darkly as evidence.

Back to Sherlock Holmes and whilst I can’t fault Downey Jr, I’m not a fan of the storyline.  It’s a rather dark plot – like something out of a Dan Brown novel.  Holmes also as an uncanny ability to fit the pieces of the puzzle together with ridiculous ease – again, like something out of a Dan Brown novel.  Perhaps my expectations were misguided but I was hoping for something less serious, more humorous.

Englishman Guy Ritchie sits in the director’s chair and many will be familiar with his style having seen such films as Snatch and Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.  This movie has its fair share of action but perhaps the most talked about element will be the relationship between Holmes and Watson.  I wasn’t familiar with the term before but I now I have an understanding of a “bromance”.

Every year, there’s always one huge release on Boxing Day to entertain the public and/or to help them get over their hangovers.  Sherlock Holmes is the 2009 contender and I’m sure there’ll be some long queues at cinemas over the coming days.