Sherlock Holmes (R) ★★★☆

Sherlock Holmes – A New Superhero CSI Style

Non-stop action, lavish 1800’s London sets, Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson would appear to be a first rate combination for a winner of a film; and fortunately this is the case here. (No pun intended) Directed by Guy Ritchie whose past films center on ‘criminal low- lives’ that knock each other around whilst rock music blares in the background (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels 1998) and (RocknRolla 2008), I was a bit leery. The film resembles Ritchie’s style; but its Downey’s star power and charisma that carry the film.

The opening scene sets the tone for the entire film as we view Downey take out a large guy with four punches. The scene is in slow motion with —you guessed it, loud music in the background. The look of Victorian London is amazing, a treat to be sure. The Tower Bridge is not completed and is the center for many scenes. The lively banter between Holmes and Watson is refreshing and a pure delight on-screen. Certainly the script focuses on Holmes and does an excellent job as we are enlightened by his true nature. The script is fuzzy during the scenes between he and Rachael McAdams, who plays a thief and girlfriend of sorts.

A fan of major epic historical sets, this London of the late 1800’s did not disappoint. The attention to detail is apparent as well as the wardrobe and dialogue of the characters.  It’s as if we’ve stepped back into time as the musical score adds to our senses and seals the deal.

Holmes, in detective mode, reminded me somewhat of the TV CSI shows as we are given flashbacks that confirm his suspicions and nail his reasonings. He’s clever, quick witted and an expert martial arts fighter. It seems that our ‘new’ superhero has several qualities that are highly desirable and simply entertaining to view on the big screen.  He doesn’t fly or don a spider mask, instead, he relies on his heightened sense of intellect which is unique.

The story revolves around a string of ritualistic and brutal murders. The suspect, ‘Lord Blackwood’, is caught and sentenced to death although somehow survives the hanging and is at his game again terrorizing London.  Holmes and Watson continue their pursuit by using their fighting skills and famous intellects to get to the heart of the case. It’s a rollicking romp around London as these two in action are great fun to view. My regret is that McAdams’ character wasn’t given a clearer vision as she’s both mysterious and ambiguous.

Holmes’s fictional character created by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the subject of over 50 short stories and 4 novels. The detective lived in London on the famous Baker Street in the late 1800’s and was the go-to guy for solving crime in London. Sherlock Holmes’ signature pipe, deerstalker hat and plaid overcoat are nonexistent in this modern remake of the sleuth. The new Holmes wardrobe consists of black and gray pinstripe or solids with a vest, ascot and fedora hat. The look is more of a poet or a scholar of the time than a banker or businessman. Holmes by all means is an intellectual superhero and one who actually leads a solitary life while not on a case. He plays the violin, reads, conducts scientific experiments or participates in boxing matches.

Bottom line—loved Robert Downey Jr.’s performance and his work with Jude Law. Fast-paced action, amazing Victorian London sets and non-stop banter. Great ride!

Sarah Adamson © January 2010