With Hollywood’s trend of adapting everything into a film slowly overtaking the desire to create and push something original, you would think that a Sherlock Holmes movie would be the first thing to pop up amongst this crop of adaptations. Fortunately, along comes Guy Ritchie to remedy that. The good news; Hollywood made a good Sherlock Holmes film. The bad; Hollywood made a Sherlock Holmes film with its imprint stamped all over it.
Surely Sherlock Holmes needs no introduction. The world’s greatest detective (played by Robert Downey Jr.) who can pretty much be summarized as a Victorian era living computer is on the case of criminals that are far too elusive for licensed law enforcement. Aided by his partner, Dr. Watson (Jude Law), Holmes finds himself targeted by Henry Blackwood (Mark Strong), a murdering Satanist that he helped arrest and, as a result, sentence to death by hanging. Blackwood is claimed to have been resurrected by satanic forces and is helping in a conspiracy to take down Parliament in a case that only Holmes can solve. Downey Jr. and Law have an interesting onscreen chemistry that seldom gets tiring. They really seem to have a deeply intertwined history of working together that leads to several serious and comedic moments. Performance wise, the acting was pretty much solid all across the board. Not a single bad performance in the lot.
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.
Unfortunately, the movie also has a very stereotypical Hollywood feel. As if Holmes’ thought processes and mysteries weren’t enough to entertain, somewhere along the line, somebody felt the need to turn him into a Victorian era James Bond, complete with fight sequences, chases and grandiose action galore. It’s not that any of it is badly done. Quite the opposite, the action is actually pretty well thought out and well shot. It just feels a little bit unnecessary at times. Maybe I would have just preferred to see a more traditional adaptation but something about the action in the 2nd act of this film just seemed a tad bit overproduced.
For fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories, know this. This is simply an alternate interpretation of the character. There are plenty of sly nods to the original novels and audiences should definitely get a kick out of Downey and Law’s performances. Although this may not have been the adaptation I was looking for but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still satisfied.
8 out of 10