Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Crime / Mystery
Warner Brothers || PG13 - 128 minutes || December 25, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-01-06

.:: F I L M ::.

Director: Guy Richie
Writer(s): Arthur Conan Doyle (characters); Lionel Wigram and Michael Robert Johnson (story), Michael Robert Johnson and Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg (screenplay)
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong

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Sherlock Holmes is one of the most surprisingly unusual films of 2009; not necessarily in a good or bad way, just unusual for the fact it’s a PG-13 historical action-adventure directed by an R-rated gangster-comedy-drama centric Guy Richie. It’s also a reintroduction of a prominent British character played by the equally prominent and of the past few years, on-fire American actor in Robert Downey Jr.

This wildly re-imaginative adventure, we open with Sherlock Holmes (ROBERT DOWNEY JR.) and his faithful sidekick Dr. Watson (JUDE LAW) infiltrating a cult sacrifice at the hands of Lord Blackwood (MARK STRONG) who is about to kill his sixth victim. With some swift and creative moves, the duo stops the killing just in time and arrest Blackwood for his crimes. Months later, Blackwood is set to be hanged and apparently the execution goes off without a hitch – including an examination by Dr. Watson to the fact he is dead – until they discover his grave is empty and in his casket is another man.

Meanwhile, master thief and more than an equal to Holmes in most ways, Irene Adler (RACHEL MCADAMS) come waltzing into his life with a proposal to find a certain individual. Being wary yet intrigued by the only woman he probable truly loves, Holmes realizes a connection with her request and the apparent reappearance of Blackwood who is building a coalition of sorts for a grander scheme. Is Blackwood back from the dead? Is it supernatural or something much more complex? Who is Adler working for and why? Holmes and Watson set out to uncover the truth before it’s too late.


I wasn’t entirely enamored with Sherlock Holmes mainly because the plot isn’t as grand as it likes to think with an ultimate plot reveal that was straight-up cartoonish, dark, but cartoonish never-the-less. In fact, it makes little sense. Lord Blackwood, perpetrator of the dark arts (probably went to Hogwarts), has built a clan of believers in his magic and their plan is to overthrow the British government wowing them with Blackwood’s dark powers and then I guess take over the world. If such a plan couldn’t work for any James Bond movie or Lex Luthor, why should it now?


That said, on the mumbling words of Robert Downey Jr. – which at times were difficult to discern – the film succeeds. In short, he’s in his element now since the monster success of Iron Man. Deservedly so, he was nominated for an Academy Award with his hilarious performance in Tropic Thunder and although he’s not as prolific in Sherlock Holmes, it still is the make or break performance that makes this worthy of the ever shrinking dollar.

The supporting cast are all quite complimentary to Downey Jr. with Jude Law playing off of Downey’s eratic Holmes with a more sanity-centric Dr. Watson and the gorgeous Rachel McAdams as Holmes’ equal and adversary, a gal anyone would fall in love with. Although neither Law nor McAdams did anything memorable, they filled their roles very well and helped overcome a lame plot. Even Mark Strong getting the inauspicious job of playing the film’s primary villain, and getting the award for an actor who most resembles Andy Garcia, isn’t too bad either.

In regards to Guy Richie’s direction, I know plenty of people weren’t too impressed as he utilized styles seen 10+ years ago in films like The Matrix but seeing it used in a 19th century period piece does make it stand out and it shows the cool calculation of Sherlock and his boxing prowess are full on display which also dates back to the character’s origins, so +1 for the writers there. However, I do think Richie made the film look a tad too dark and grimy that it just looked ugly and distorted on the big screen. I know he was going for a certain style, but it didn’t work for me. I’m all for gritty, but it might’ve been too much. Of course, this is only a minor drawback to the otherwise entertaining value of the film as a whole.

With the film obviously leaving itself open to a sequel with the introduction of Holmes’ greatest foe, Professor Moriarty, I have high hopes that plot will be better developed as Downey’s charisma – as well as McAdams’ beauty – will have me going to see the sequel on opening weekend.

As it stands, Sherlock Holmes is no masterpiece but it’s entertaining and during these times, I don’t ask for much more than that.