I never really imagined Sherlock Holmes as this type of dude.
Robert Downey Jr. stars as the legendary London sleuth Sherlock Holmes, joined by Jude Law as dear Dr. Watson, in this Guy Ritchie reinvention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s oft-adapted detective series. Based on a comic book by producer Lionel Wigram, the story follows Holmes and Watson as they face off against the villainous Blackwood (Mark Strong). Rachel McAdams co-stars as quick-witted beauty Irene Adler.
So as soon as I found out that this film was going to be directed by one of my favorite’s, I was interested and curious at the same time. Why would this guy get stuck with this type of material, and would it work?
To answer the question, it’s a sort of yes and kind of no. Guy Ritchie’s pacing is quick and he does make the film a lot more fun that what I was expecting. There is a lot of action sequences that are nice, violent, and fun to watch. If the film just focused on his detective ways, it wouldn’t have been as exciting as seeing a kick-ass detective, breaking people’s jaws into two places. The way that the action works its way into the film doesn’t at all slow it down once.
The editing in the film is top notch as well. In between present moments of time are a plethora of moments involving Holmes recapping and analyzing how he should proceed in his actions. These scenes are beautifully executed and very well timed, allowing the viewers to really get inside of Holmes’ head more effectively than any bit of dialogue ever could. Although slow moving at first, the story builds to a climax that brings all questions full circle and opens up room for a sequel by introducing an element that any Holmes fan will notice was absent in throughout most of the film. I won’t spoil it here but, needless to say, I curiously await how well it shall be done in the sequel, should it come to fruition.
Now when I mean no, is that Ritchie’s style of story-telling does get a bit in the way. I felt that some stuff was put in the movie, just for comedic relief, and not necessarily for the story. I was kind of confused on how the case was actually getting solved by all the action, and at points I was even confused what were the results of the case.
Other of Ritchie’s trade marks, however work very well. The screenplay is rich with this sarcastic wit and humor that works very well throughout the whole movie. Some action scenes and others with the mystery involved were better with its light tone added with the humor. Also, the way Ritchie uses his way of telling these little clues work well, as you find out peace by peace the story.
Another problem I had with the film was the absence of any sense of color and the setting. I mean yeah the setting was good-looking, but it was just very grimy and very depressing. The story can be colorful at points, but there was never really any great blend of rich colors to stylize the movie more.
Probably the best element of the film is the acting by its two leads. Downey Jr. is great as the sarcastic and colorful Sherlock, and although sometimes the guy can be so goofy that we love him as a wonderful lead. But the duo of him and Jude Law is what makes it the best. Every time these two are on-screen it just feels like two comedians who have known each others their whole lives, and just continually riff on each other again and again. McAdams didn’t seem that strong in this film, and plenty of the lines she had just seemed very forced.
Consensus: Though Ritchie’s style doesn’t quite fit the original material, Sherlock Holmes is a fast-paced, action mystery, that has funny dialogue that gets even better with its performances from the leads.