December 29, 2009 by Zack
In some ways this film felt more like a summer action flick than a brooding winter film. Somehow, a film involving a shrewd and careful detective like Sherlock Holmes doesn’t seem like it would involve a lot of action or fighting. But in Guy Ritchie’s world, Holmes doesn’t just have to beat you up mentally–he has to beat the living daylights out of you physically, too. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.
This film snaps, crackles and pops from the very getgo. It starts in a rather brooding way, as Holmes is introduced as somewhat of a brute more than an intellectual. It’s Watson that’s more down to earth and calm. Their chemistry works well, although as usual Downey, Jr. steals the show.
The plot revolves around a mysterious and dangerous man named Blackwood who apparently has supernatural powers (and gives off the feel of Voldemort from “Harry Potter”), and “rises from the dead” after being hanged for murder. Also revealed is a larger plot involving an underground occult society that has big plans for England, and the world, as far as a takeover. For the most part, I wasn’t sure how this would work out since Holmes stories don’t usually involve the supernatural. But the pay offs, while predictable, make sense–and Holmes will always get to the bottom of it.
There are some things that didn’t seem to work. Rachel McAdams plays an ancillary character who is a criminal, but is a love interest for Holmes. For some reason, this chemistry never seemed to mesh. I like McAdams and I think she has been very good in some of her roles. But this just seemed a bit forced, and thrown in because the studio wanted a romantic sub-plot. Also, some of the ways Holmes figures things out can be a bit contrived as well. You don’t get to follow his logic, he is always three steps ahead of you. While that works for most of the film, it’d be nice for the audience to be in on it a little bit and be able to figure out how some of these things unfolded rather than Holmes just automatically telling you. I’ve never been a big fan of the “Let me explain to you the entire plot, Mr. Bond” thing.
But this film is very enjoyable from start to finish, and it certainly delivers where it should. Guy Ritchie may have too much a fondness for grungy characters and violence, but he sure knows how to shoot it and make it look good.