Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong
Guy Ritchie’s specialty is slow motion fight scenes. Sherlock Holmes’ specialty is deductive reasoning. Downey’s specialty is acting. Put them all together, you have Sherlock Holmes as a professional boxer who solves mysteries while acting convincingly. I must admit to being less than enthused when I found that Ritchie was directing this movie. While I found his other movies fine for what they were, I was never really drawn to them like most techno-studs (techno-geeks who think that they watch movies with stylized fighting somehow makes them immune to the Mountain Dew and nachos that they ingest) I work with. Still, his style worked with the new style of Holmes that the producers wanted.
“A lot of the action that Conan Doyle refers to was actually made manifest in our film. Very often, Sherlock Holmes will say things like, ‘If I hadn’t been such an expert short stick person, I would have died in that’ or he would refer to a fight off screen. We’re putting those fights on screen.”
Producer/co-writer Lionel Wigram
So, okay, they have a loose basis for turning Holmes into a bohemian. Slide into the role the newly healthy and incredibly buff Robert Downey, Jr., you have the potential for a decent film. For what it is, the acting is pretty good. Jude Law is a decent Watson, if perhaps a little bit too tough. Rachel McAdams provides the perfect type of girl that Holmes would be drawn to. Someone so clever and mysterious, she might even be smarter than he is. Strong, aside from his character’s circumstances, seems to just exist to look like Andy Garcia.
The story moves along at a relatively brisk pace, stopping occasionally to let you know what you just saw, but supposedly did not register, minutes before. I understand that the device is a tribute to the books, but it works only for the severely attention deprived in the movie.
The mystery is passable, but again, we find a literary technique that works better in the written form than in the movie. For each mystery is simply ignored until the next fight scene during which, in which the combatants describe what is to them obvious, but to us, by now, a flashback. It makes one more a passive viewer than an active participant.
The movie is most thrown out of balance by the special effects. I never thought of Sherlock Holmes as a playground for the crew that made Attack of the Clones. Indeed, the city of London is immersed in shimmering silver when they are outside, and dreary, sweaty brown inside. This always threw me out of the mood in a way that Gladiator could not even approach. Never in any exterior shot did I ever feel like I was looking at anything more than a blue screen. One wishes that the special effects “wizards” could resist the temptation to make things look so friggin dreamy.
That said, this movie is worth an evening at home, and you can be thankful you did not spend $40 at the theater. Go see Iron Man 2 again, instead.
** out of *****