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Sherlock Holmes

(7/10)

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Current Rating 10/10 | 1 Votes

Sherlock Holmes is a 2009 reincarnation of the famous detective, helmed by Guy Ritchie, the director of Snatch and RocknRolla. The movie follows the titular Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his stalwart companion Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) as they investigate a series of murders with possible occult connections, with the mysterious Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) at the center.

I'm ashamed to admit that this is my first exposure to the famous detective. I've heard stories of his exploits and have more than likely caught tidbits of his adventures on television, but I've never sat down and experienced a complete Sherlock Holmes tale until now. While Ritchie's vision is definitely entertaining, this Holmes isn't as cerebral as I was led to believe.

Everything I've ever heard about the character painted him as the personification of brains over brawn, while this instance of him seems to use both evenly. He's no dummy, but his intelligence is usually displayed after the fact, in the "this is how I knew this" manner. We rarely get to actually see him put his massive intellect into use in the field, though we know it's at work in his head. Having him reveal his hand after the fact is almost more disappointing than him not doing it, like we're being teased with what could have been.

We instead get plenty of brutal, kinetic action, which is great and all, but I can get that anywhere. The action scenes in Sherlock Holmes are well done, and they toy with some neat set pieces, but too often the movie boils down to a run-of-the-mill action movie, when I came expecting more. Is it a flaw of the movie that it didn't live up to my expectations? Of course not, that would hardly be fair. However, it does suffer from putting style above substance.

There was never a doubt in my mind that Holmes could handle himself in a fight. Anybody that throws themselves into dangerous situations that often would surely know something of self defense, especially with his mental capabilities. I didn't need to be reminded every fifteen or so minutes. I'm not saying that the film shouldn't contain action, just that it didn't need quite as much.

There are certain moments of inspiration in the action scenes, the fist fights in particular. The movie falls into slow motion as Holmes mentally dismantles his opponent. We hear his thoughts as he telegraphs each move and the effect it will have on his prey. Once the plan is set, he unleashes, every blow hitting its intended target. More of this thoughtful destruction would have been nice.

It seems odd to cast a New York native as an English/Scottish (I'm not sure which) detective when there are so many wonderful English actors out there, such as Jude Law, who plays Dr. Watson. And yet Robert Downey Jr. makes this role his own, mimicking a British accent with seemingly no effort at all. Downey uses all of his charm to make his detective a memorable character and he succeeds.

Guy Ritchie knows action and he employs his skills well, they're just not a perfect match for the source material. That doesn't mean that Sherlock Holmes is a bad film. It's not. It just isn't as good as it could have been. But with Ritchie's sharp directing and Downey's masteful acting, it's a fun ride.

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