"You must trust me, I am a professional."
Robert Downey Jr and Guy Ritchie together create something really exciting with Sherlock Holmes, successfully merging a great detective story with solid action and even a believable romantic sub-plot. I expected a lot from this one, as a fan of both the director and the star, and I am happy to say that it delivered - and then some. For consistency the RT score right now is 68%, but I have to admit to losing a bit of faith in those scores since Avatar is sitting at 82%, there is no justice in the world it seems.
As the movie opens we are thrown right into the middle of an important case where Holmes (Downey), with the assistance of Watson (Law), is chasing down criminal mastermind Lord Blackwood (Strong) before he can murder an innocent young woman. It's non stop action as they two close on their quarry - and subsequently secure the scene before the police can even get there. Blackwood is captured, imprisoned and sentenced to death by hanging, case closed - or is it? Shortly after the sentence is carried out, Holmes and Watson are called to the cemetery, where it appears that Blackwood has 'risen from the grave'. Whats really going on? Can Holmes solve the case before Blackwood can carry out his plan? What does Holmes old flame Irene Adler (McAdams) have to do with it, and who is the shadowy figure she is in contact with? As the end credits role, all these questions will be answered and it will leave you eager for a sequel.
The casting on this movie was pure perfection. I can think of nobody better suited to play Holmes than Robert Downey Jr. As Watson, Jude Law represented the perfect companion to Downeys Holmes. Law's Watson is a no nonsense kind of guy who doesn't put up with any of Holmes games, there is a great scene in which Watson goes so far as to punch Holmes in the face - marvelous. The real shining performance for me comes from Mark Strong - the same man who stole every scene of RocknRolla as Archie - as the villain of the movie he is equally as strong and driven as Holmes, making for some great scenes when the two actually meet face to face. Finally McAdams turns in a solid performance as Holmes old flame, doing a great job of breaking up the boys club while still holding her own.
Anyone familiar with Ritchies other movies will feel right at home with his directorial style. He favors the wide angle shot, capturing as much of the scene as possible, especially during the action sequences. One of the things I love most about Ritchie is that you can actually track his growth as a director, if you watch Lock Stock, Revolver and Sherlock Holmes in sequence, you can really see how Ritchie has refined his work. One thing that did concern me when going to see the movie was how much action and explosions there seemed to be in the trailer. This was not the Holmes I grew up with, but I am happy to say that it all blends together seamlessly in the finished product. The action sequences don't detract from the mystery, they add to it by delivering a sense of urgency and drama.
Overall I was very happy with this movie, it was fun, exciting and very enjoyable. The entire cast deliver superb performances, the plot is thoughtful and consistent, and finally it established Downey as the leading man in what is sure to be yet another franchise (in addition to Iron Man). Perhaps this is the single greatest comeback story any actor in Hollywood has ever managed to pull off. Go see the movie, and then buy it on DVD.
Final Verdict on Sherlock Holmes: