Sherlock Holmes (2009)

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Fun, lively movie that’s far from a scandal in Bohemia . . . .

Guy Ritchie, famous for his London wideboy, cockney, mockney, minor gangster classics such as Snatch and Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels brings to the big screen yet another charming, cheeky Londoner known as . . . . . . Sherlock Holmes (as you may have guessed from the title).

The world’s most famous detective is this time played by Robert Downey Jr while his erstwhile companion, Dr. Watson, is personified by Mr Jude Law. Fans of the sleuth will recognise the name Irene Adler (played by Rachel McAdams) and she gets to play her part in proceedings although things are concentrated around the nefarious scheme of Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) and events that seem supernatural to all but the keenest mind.

There are a number of flaws in this movie and a number of complaints that fans of film and fans of the great detective could easily pile up for discussion in any review. However, those failings are balanced out by the main strength of Ritchie’s ace up his sleeve.

Ladies and gentlemen, with Downey Jr. and Law playing the lead roles as alternately petulant children, awkwardly close males and/or brothers who love to hate each other we get one of the most amusing and satisfying double acts in quite some time. Accent hiccups aside, Downey Jr. does very well as the brilliant Holmes, constantly distracted, battling boredom and at a loss to use his intelligence for something worthwhile. Law has a lot to do to avoid being overshadowed and he does so admirably, giving us a Watson who can be the gruff, bluff apprentice known to many yet also the reliable stalwart he always has been when required to be.

The rest of the cast do just fine with McAdams having a lot of fun as Adler, Strong nicely providing a constant threat as the “bad presence” and Eddie Marsan nicely slotting into the role of Inspector Lestrade.

Visually, the movie has a nice look and feel and there are a number of moments when Ritchie impresses upon us just how Holmes and his superior mind can make the decisions he makes but it’s sad to have to say that there are also some decent action sequences marred by that hyperactive editing we see so often nowadays. It’s not as bad as some examples and may actually end up being a little easier to endure when on a small screen but at the cinema this was a bit of a turn-off.

The script is okay, things take a little while to become totally clear and all is dependent on Holmes’ full disclosure but, then again, wasn’t that so often the way of the stories? Everything mixed together provides an ideal mix of characterisation, intrigue, action, humour and simple, pleasurable entertainment. Which means it is successful in what it set out to be.

Rating: ★★★½☆

2 Comments
  1. Justin Smith says

    Well put, I had similar feelings upon my initial viewing as well. I had big doubts when I saw the trailers, but I had faith in Richie and Downey Jr., and was glad that I did. It’s no “Snatch” or “Lock, Stock”, but it’s a good movie.

  2. Kevin Matthews says

    It’s no Swept Away either, thank god. That’s one movie I’ve actually yet to endure, I just can’t bring myself to face it yet.

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