Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Who knew before Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) aged into Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce that they were the 1860’s version of The Green Hornet and Kato? Who knew? When we first peep in on Holmes, he is on a case deducing things, attempting to foil ritual serial killer Lord Blackburn (Mark Strong) from taking out his next victim. Soon Dr. Watson shows up to lend a hand and now Watson and Holmes totally kick the asses of Blackburn’s goons using some impressive martial arts stick work and foil his nefarious plan. Outstanding.

The truth of the matter is they’ve only foiled Blackburn’s nefarious plan temporarily, but more on that later as we first have to get to know Holmes and Watson a little bit. Holmes is a genius, obviously, but he is also tortured, slovenly, self destructive, a drug addict and enjoys the occasional bare fist brawl. While Watson doesn’t have Holmes’ unique powers of deduction he is still intelligent, handy with a blade and loyal to his good friend Holmes to a fault.

But enough about those two as there is the issue of the curious ‘Case of Lord Blackburn’ to get to. Though Lord Blackburn is scheduled to hang for his crimes against humanity, he has informed Holmes via private meeting that death is merely the beginning of his reign. So on schedule Blackburn is hanged, Watson pronounces him dead but wouldn’t you know it, somehow Blackburn has risen from the dead and is now in the process of fulfilling this prophecy he has previously delivered to Holmes.

While Holmes and Watson are in the process of determining how Blackburn has used magic to cheat death, a feat Holmes is certain is the work of a mere trickster, Holmes gets a visit from his former lover, the scurrilous Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) who is also involved in the case in some fashion. Irene is being controlled by a mysterious figure of suspect moral character who floats in and out of the shadows. I’m sure most of us have a good idea of this mysterious characters identity.

To cut to the chase the mystical Lord Blackburn has a dangerous plan, this mysterious figure in the shadows wants a piece of Lord Blackburn’s plan, and Sherlock, Watson, and Irene are working against a ticking clock to stop Lord Blackburn’s plan, which will change the face of the world as we knew it from taking fruition. There you go.

‘Sherlock Holmes’ was directed by Guy Ritchie. There was a time that I was convinced… CONVINCED… that Guy Ritchie was destined for absolute unqualified greatness. You could not tell me that this was not written for the man. This was after ‘Snatch’ of course. Then he married Madonna, made ‘Swept Away’ which is considered one of the worst movies ever. Eventually he would make ‘Revolver’ and there are few movies that I disliked more than I disliked that movie. So Sadly I had to put my certainty of Guy Ritchie’s greatness aside and simply pray that man can just crawl back up to mediocrity. My man made a positive step towards that meager goal with ‘Rock n’ Rolla’, and made an even more positive step by having Madonna leave his ass and now with ‘Sherlock Holmes’ a return back to mediocrity has been achieved.

Actually ‘Sherlock Holmes’ is a little better than mediocre even though it is totally overblown. If you’ve seen the trailer or the movie itself you know already that isn’t your granddad’s Sherlock Holmes as this flick has plenty of fight sequences and special effects and explosions and lots of slow motion but none of that blustery nonsense is what makes the movie any good. The thing that makes this movie enjoyable is the traditional Sherlock Holmes stuff. Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes using his keen deductive powers to figure out the most complex issues. Jude Law as Watson and the authentic chemistry he and Downey Jr. have together. Mark Strong as the villain, and exactly the kind of villain that we like to see who has very little to offer society other than pain and destruction, and Professor Moriarty hanging out in shadows getting himself ready for sequels.

But it is the 21st century and who over the age of thirty would go see the movie if it simply had Holmes and Watson working on a case? Not enough people obviously. Sure Downey Jr., Law and Strong could carry that movie but we need to see Holmes do kung fu and watch explosions and more explosions and slow mo and observe Watson turn into Royce Gracie. But guess what? I didn’t mind the bluster, I just wished Ritchie had scaled the bluster back a bit. This is a two hour movie with a lot of this time dedicated to explosions and fight scenes and more explosions followed by a few more fight scenes and after a while it was just too much bluster even for me and I have pretty damn high bluster meter.

Nonetheless I did enjoy the movie, mainly because I enjoyed Downey Jr. and Law’s reinvention of Holmes and Watson and Strong, once again, doing solid work. I also enjoyed Rachel McAdams, even though she did seem a bit too young to be Holmes paramour, but that appears to be a genetic issue for the lovely McAdams who has the physical inability to look over eighteen. I’d like to see fewer explosions in the inevitable sequel, but I don’t think Guy Ritchie is going to give me that.

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