Sherlock Holmes

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams Directed by: Guy Ritchie

Not having read many of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, I normally picture the eccentric and brilliant sleuth as an introspective, pipe smoking, violin playing guy who doesn't do much else than solve crimes in his deerstalker hat and hang out in his study.

Certainly I was among those who saw trailers of Sherlock Holmes featuring action sequences, including the hero himself using carefully calculated ninja skills, taking out the bad guys, diving out of windows being in near proximity to explosions.  I approached the movie with caution – interested, but unsure it would really deliver.

The most surprising part of the movie was the acting.  Robert Downey Jr. was completely amazing as a Sherlock Holmes who is physically as well as mentally sharp, a complete disaster that can pull himself together to be a charmer in short order, and all with a wonderfully dry sense of humor. Basically, he adapted Sherlock Holmes to be Robert Downey Jr.

Jude Law undergoes a more impressive transformation playing Watson.  This is the first movie I can think of where he hasn't been a womanizing dandy – he's somewhat romantically awkward as Watson, Holmes' partner in crime-solving adventures.

The storyline is a bit mediocre, or at least very typical of ye old late 19th century/early 20th century British literature.  (For the record, I have been on quite an Agatha Christie kick lately, and she also uses some similar devices).   Immediately as the movie starts, Holmes and Watson capture a fellow who fancies himself a sorcerer and is about to offer up a female sacrifice.  He is carted off to jail, hanged and buried…and then busts out of his tomb. Literally.

With the seemingly supernatural Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) on the loose and threatening to take over the world, the game is afoot.  The film is stuffed with a secret society, a mysterious and not quite trustworthy former flame (Rachel McAdams) of Sherlock's who returns to both confound the detecting process and offer some clues, and evidence that makes no sense until Sherlock explains it.

Visually, the movie is interesting.  My favorite scenes are those illustrating Sherlock as he is in the middle of an action sequence, and the audience is treated to a snapshot of his thinking through the next four or five hits necessary to knock out or 'neutralize' the target. Similarly, scenes when he analyzes a person – such as Watson's lady friend – are hilarious. The action sequences are believable – Sherlock has some chops, but within reasonable limits.

In short, I am very much looking forward to the sequel.\

If you:

  • Like an action film with a brain
  • Like a good mystery
  • Like Robert Downey Jr.

Put it in the queue!

If you:

  • Prefer a more scholarly Sherlock
  • Prefer a more seductive Jude Law
  • Are unduly irritated when you can't figure out a mystery as the clues are being revealed (i.e. you can't deduce as well as the detective)

Don't put it in the queue.

Written by Jennifer Venson