Robert Downey Junior, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong
Detective Sherlock Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England
It would appear that Guy Ritchie has made a hit film in ‘Sherlock Holmes‘, a tight and entertaining film in the Indiana Jones vein that also screams franchise.
It isn’t a secret that Guy Ritchie needed a hit to revive his career, after a reasonable bout of success with gangster flicks such as ‘Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels’ and ‘Snatch’ his output had become stale and samey. With the two films just mentioned Ritchie gained a small following, but any success he could have risen to wasn’t realised due to terrible career moves. Making a film with his then partner Madonna proved to be one of the worst career nose dives in history, he recovered some of his shattered reputation in 2000 with ‘Snatch’ starring Brad Pitt but then followed up with another gangster picture in ‘Revolver’, one of the most ridiculously stupid films I have ever seen, a film that tries so hard to be smart but still ends up being brain numbingly banal.
Ritchie made another moderate hit with ‘Rock ‘n Rolla’, the film wasn’t as different and contemporary as Ritchie had promised and was yet another uninspired venture into the crime genre.
Going in to watch ‘Sherlock Holmes’ I wasn’t filled with confidence to say the least, don’t get me wrong I was trying my best to go in with an open mind but all I had seen from the trailers hadn’t gotten me excited or hopeful.
Maybe my low expectations helped but I thought the film was great, it is a fun, humorous action piece with lots of twists and turns and enough variety to keep both parents and the kids entertained throughout. What makes the film work is the casting, Robert Downey Junior is brilliant as the title character, his accent and delivery perfect, it is no surprise that Downey Junior plays the humorous intellect anti-hero so well, after his excellent performances in ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Zodiac’, Sherlock Holmes was a role he would surely digest with ease.
The film is a buddy movie at heart, like ‘Lethal Weapon’ but in a period setting. The film it resembles most is ’Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’, a film that I understand Ritchie watched a lot while preparing and shooting ‘Sherlock Holmes‘.
Holmes’ uptight buddy Watson is played very well by Jude Law, it is now known that both Law and Downey Junior got along like a house on fire whilst filming, their understanding of each other definitely shows on screen and gives the two lead characters an important depth.
The supporting cast is also tip top, Rachel McAdams plays the femme fatale very well and is convincing in a character who can outsmart the great Sherlock Holmes.
Mark Strong plays the immortal villain Lord Blackwood who plans to destroy and rebuild London and then the world. The character of Lord Blackwood could have been a clichéd and laughable villain but Strong plays him very well and gives him the supernatural chilling edge that the character needs.
One of the things I was worried about whilst watching the film was that I would be constantly reminded I was watching a Guy Ritchie film, thankfully despite the London setting and some slow-motion action sequences (that are used sparingly and well) Ritchie’s style isn’t all over it. This only added to the films chances of success, the boxing day UK release wasn’t a bad idea either as it made a tidy earning on its opening weekend on both sides of the Atlantic.
A film that has characters more interesting than its ever moving plot, but with characters as enjoyable and as good as these the plot would always get second place.
It appears that Guy Ritchie has made his first major hit judging by the box office so far and I’m sure I’m not the only one who can smell a sequel and a franchise round the corner.