Nothing Escapes Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock HolmesEven if I used terms such as clever, bright, ingenious, adept, cunning, discerning, quick-witted, resourceful, shrewd, versatile and keen, I could never come close to describing the attributes of the fictional character Sherlock Holmes.  And to think, I once thought the television character MacGyver was the most brilliant and quick thinking man I ever known.  That all quickly changed the moment my wide-eyed baby blues affixed themselves to the silver screen on Monday night to witness the big screen debut of Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of the legendary Scotland Yard detective Sherlock Holmes, and the many debacles and inconceivable situations he narrowly escapes. 

Sherlock Holmes

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional character of Sherlock Holmes first appeared in publication circa the late nineteenth century.  Holmes is most famous for his sharp intellectual skills and his acute use of observation, quick deductions and forensic science skills to solve what many believe to be unexplainable cases.  If you witnessed what I did on Monday night, then you know there’s arguably no case or mystery that Sherlock can’t solve.  He’s a master of disguise, proficient in weapons and martial arts, adept in making quick and precise deductions, prevalent in anatomy and chemistry, experienced with the women, a skilled musician and much more.  Those are actually just a few of the traits that define the qualities found within Sherlock Holmes and I am elated to report that Guy Ritchie’s vision and Robert Downey Jr.’ incarnation of the famous detective nailed those with precision and accuracy. 

Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes

Of course, that’s not to say that Robert did not have any onscreen help with his titular role.  There’s also a co-star by the name of Jude Law I would like to talk about.  Maybe you heard of him before?  The onscreen marriage/chemistry of Robert’s Holmes and Law’s Dr. Watson was union formed with more impeccability than Match.com could ever promise to deliver for a slight nominal fee.  The film also stars Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, the only woman who apparently has ever got the best of Holmes, Kelly Reilly who plays Watson’s love interest and finally Mark Strong who plays the duo’s nemesis Lord Blackwood.   

Robert & Jude in Sherlock Holmes

The film is set in the late nineteenth century and simply put; it revolves around the plight of Holmes and Watson who are trying to stop evil Lord Blackwood from taking control over Britain.  It is billed as an action-adventure mystery.  Take note of the first word I used, “action.”  There is plenty of action to go around as sometimes I felt like I was watching a Jerry Bruckheimer Pirates film instead of the sleuth mystery film I was expecting.  It was a much welcome surprise as I was a wee bit apprehensive that the movie might be a bit on the dull side.  Much to my chagrin, I got my prominent dose of action right from the explosive beginning.  I was amazed how the film just started like a pack of race horses stampeding right out of the gates acting instinctively to the firing of the pistol.  In my opinion, this is exactly how the second Transformers film should have started.  But let’s face it, even heavy intense scenes of crowd-pleasing action don’t always consist of the essential ingredients necessary for a good film.  Despite the film’s ravaging opening, Robert’s usual charismatic onscreen charm and the duo dream team made in movie heaven the feature managed to fizzle out in the beginning of act two and although I cannot point my finger at exactly what went wrong, Ritchie did successfully manage to pull me back in. 

Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes 

After the viewing I went home and immediately brushed up on my Sherlock Holmes knowledge/folklore and I must admit that in my opinion, Guy Ritchie’s vision and representation of the fictional character remained faithful to the short stories and novelizations of centuries ago.  Guy, Robert and Jude painted a picture perfect canvas with their conceptualization of the nineteenth century world of Sherlock Holmes as they successfully deployed the necessary mix of comedic elements, action sequences and forensic investigations that made Holmes so popular in literary culture.  So why is it that I am still struggling to find that perfect equilibrium in my mind and shout with emphatic applause that this is a must-see?  Well, it’s probably because it isn’t. 

Mark Strong in Sherlock Holmes

I emphatically encourage longtime fans and readers to check the film out and see how you think it matches contemporary views with historical homage to the preceding bodies of work from centuries ago.  I want to warn newcomers unfamiliar with the legacy and fictional pieces related to all things Sherlock Holmes to proceed with caution.  If you are under the false impression that this is the too good to be true Christmas season blockbuster film, then I will warn you now and tell you that your film is a couple theaters down in a theater marked by the title Avatar.  I am confident in my belief that not everyone is going to walk away from Sherlock Holmes as a day one fan.  It may ultimately take another viewing or some logical thinking to figure out why it appealed to you.  Luckily for me, I did enjoy myself and I look forward to revisiting it one day again in the future, just not anytime soon.  It is what I would classify as a movie that I was happy to have checked out on the big screen, but will patiently be waiting until I can score a good deal on the eventual Blu-ray release. 

 Robert Downey Jr. is a Prize Fighter in Sherlock Holmes

While the action could be combustible at times like the scene with the multiple long drawn out explosions our heroes encountered while pursuing what they thought was a perished Lord Blackwood, I enjoyed the thrill ride nonetheless.  The comedic antics, references and humor lent themselves well to accurately depicting the fictional character of Holmes.  Even the inclusion of the numerous fight scenes I felt set the record straight that Sherlock is a master of human anatomy and mixed martial arts.  I mean take a look at the guy.  One would never believe the opponents he is able to successfully take down just by using his quick-witted deductive logic that quickly calculates the necessary strikes.  I am truly jealous that I don’t possess that power.  I have never been a fan of Rachel McAdams so I can candidly admit to her part being a bit miscast as the age difference between her and Robert are immediately distinguishable and painfully obvious.  They must really be anticipating box office success with this vehicle as Rachel’s character served little reason other than to set the movie up for a potential sequel with Sherlock’s true arch nemesis.  Fans of the fictional works will immediately know who I am talking about here.  He needs no introduction, but don’t worry…his name will be spoken several times throughout in case you can’t make that deduction quite yet. 

Robert & Jude in Sherlock Holmes

I guess where I am hung up is that I just can’t get past the fact that nothing gets past Sherlock Holmes.  If you are watching the film and you find yourself confused as I was in segments, don’t worry, everything is logically deduced, explained and played out within that brilliant mind of Holmes.  Ironically, I think that is what gave me instant satisfaction.   All my questions were answered before I even walked out of the theater.  It’s not going to beat out Avatar for this holiday season’s number one box office spot, but it should finish second.  I unequivocally wanted to fall in love with this film and I purposely held off on writing my best of 2009 until seeing this, but had it not been for the matchmaking of Jude and Robert, then I probably would not be so generous with my final grade of a B-.  Give Sherlock Holmes a try if you are feeling adventurous. 


Sherlock Holmes Theatrical Poster


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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

1 Response to “Nothing Escapes Sherlock Holmes”

  1. blu jay

    well i got all excited until i realized the picture was directed by Guy Ritchie so haven’t yet seen it. an i love both holmes and robert downey jr. & would be eager to see what could be magic. but from all accounts–not just yours–it lacks it. Sad, but will see it sometime anyway. can’t desert holmes, ever.