Review: Sherlock Holmes

Posted December 22nd, 2009 at 1:49 pm


Sherlock Holmes arrives for the holidays as one of the most anticipated movies of the season. This is due in large part to the charisma of Robert Downey Jr. who plays the famed private investigator as Guy Ritchie attempts a reboot of the story. Unlike some other franchises which have gone with origin stories, the characters in Sherlock are already established as they take on a new and challenging case that has the fate of England in the balance.

Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.) and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) decide to assist the police and track down Lord Blackwood, a black magician and leader of a cult that has the public living in fear. Blackwood has apparently risen from the dead to carry out a sinister plan. Not being an expert on the origins of Sherlock Holmes it would be difficult to state how well the story relates or how close to the original idea of the characters are represented in this new attempt. However from what I’ve read the movie is surprisingly true to the source material.

Some scenes felt as though they dragged on a little too long. It isn’t often that I complain about a film’s length but the 130 minutes here felt a tad heavy. I also found myself confused at certain points with the story progression and character motivations. Despite all that the ending of the movie actually brings everything together very well. Looking back on it all those prior scenes and developments, some of which seemed unimportant at the time, made sense and added up.

The action scenes were well done and very raw. In a way that was very refreshing to see. Most was through hand-to-hand combat and they were stylized in a way that Guy Ritchie fans will recognize and enjoy. The comedic elements were sprinkled in throughout and mostly based on banter between the characters. However both the action and comedy appeared more sparsely than the trailer would suggest.

While I thought they were fine in their roles I didn’t get an overwhelming sense of chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. RDJ is fun to watch as always and Law does an admirable job as the sidekick but outside of a few moments (many from the trailer) they just seemed to be going through the paces together. I enjoyed Rachel McAdams more than anticipated given that she provided some balance. She was essentially the only female character in the movie.

Sherlock Holmes is a decently entertaining and well crafted movie but didn’t quite reach the expectations I had going in. Ultimately it could be that following such an incredible experience had with Avatar affected my feeling on it but doubt my overall impression would be much different. I suspect word-of-mouth to be mixed which will threaten the possibility of sequels. Warner Brothers was hoping for Sherlock to be the start of a new action-adventure franchise but I just don’t think it had the necessary charm to become one.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Sherlock Holmes releases on Christmas Day.