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Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Nothing Escapes Him

Directed by:

Guy Ritchie

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 128 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A

Country: Australia, United Kingdom, United States

What a rollercoaster life Guy Ritchie leads. Two years ago, Hollywood wouldn’t touch the Madonna-tainted mockney with a bargepole but fast-forward to the present and he’s directing Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in the last blockbuster of 2009.

Sherlock Holmes is the latest classic piece of literature to be the treated to a modern-day makeover replete with CGI and contemporary touches. Super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.) and his ever-present sidekick Dr Watson (Law) return to the streets of London to stop a secret society conspiracy led by the ‘sorcerer’ Lord Blackwood (Strong). Along the way Holmes is double and triple crossed by temptress and con artist, Irene Adler (McAdams), and aided by the incompetent Inspector Lestrade (Marsan).

Law and Downey Jr. share an excellent onscreen chemistry as the two heroes are portrayed as bickering best buddies with plenty of witty banter and humorous barbs. Downey Jr. plays Holmes as a self-destructive genius with a façade of semi catatonia and Jude Law’s likeable Dr Watson is arguably his best performance since 1997’s Gatacca. This relationship pushes the film further into buddy movie territory than old-school detective film as the sleuthing takes a back seat to action and characterisation. The bad guys lurk around in the background and their potential danger is quite vague throughout and in the end it all turns a little Scooby Doo with a rushed super-deduction finale.

Style is very much the victor over substance and at times it seems that Ritchie is trying to be graphic-action aficionado Robert Zemeckis as he little flirts with slo-mo fighting scenes and comic book villains. In the end, it feels over-stylised, however Guy Ritchie’s team has created a visual feast in the wonderfully recreated Victorian London on show. The English capital is depicted as a gritty yet elegant bustling metropolis with no detail spared.

It's Got: A great visualisation of Victorian London, good chemistry, a Scooby Doo villain.

It Needs: Less of the pretentious stylisation.

Alternatives:

Dorian Gray, From Hell, Snatch

Summary

Guy Ritchie does a decent job at reinventing Sherlock Holmes as a modern action hero with the help of excellent performances from Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law.

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