Main cast: Robert Downey Jr (Sherlock Holmes), Jude Law (Dr John Watson), Mark Strong (Lord Blackwood), Rachel McAdams (Irene Adler), Kelly Reilly (Mary Morstan), Eddie Marsan (Inspector Lestrade), Hans Matheson (Lord Coward), Geraldine James (Mrs Hudson), James Fox (Sir Thomas), and William Hope (Ambassador Standish)
Director: Guy Ritchie
I hope you aren’t expecting the characters and story in Sherlock Holmes to be similar to any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories featuring those characters, because this is an update for the twenty-first century, which means that both Sherlock Holmes and his heterosexual life partner Dr John Watson know kung-fu and go medieval on their opponents’ rear ends.
If you have watched any movie featuring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, you will know what to expect here. Robert Downey Jr plays Sherlock Holmes with his trademark somewhat manic but always amusing style, while Jude Law plays the same kind of character that he often plays – the good-looking but somewhat remote fellow. But put them together and I get a combination that works pretty well in this movie. Sherlock Holmes in this movie is a manic, eccentric, and very self-absorbed fellow who is more dependent on his friend Watson than he’d like to admit. Dr James Watson is an ex-military doctor who craves a normal life, but he’s drawn to Holmes’s intriguing cases more than he’d like to expect.
In this movie, Watson is engaged to marry Mary Morstan. This drives the wildly jealous Holmes to alternate between bouts of bleak and manic despair, not leaving his room for days and shooting at the wall, and bouts of desperate energized attempts to sabotage Watson’s relationship with Mary. Meanwhile, the two men manage to identify and apprehend Lord Blackwood in a mystery involving several dead young women in London. Lord Blackwood seems to be a leader of some kind of cult committing ritual murders to gain some kind of power. Oh well, now that he’s captured and eventually hanged, there is nothing else to worry about, right? Oops, Lord Blackwood somehow comes back to life and resumes his plot, which turns out to be of larger scale than one would expect, while a woman from Holmes’s past, Irene Adler, shows up and complicates matters.
Sherlock Holmes is an enjoyable action movie, due to mostly because the entertaining chemistry between the two lead actors. The two lead actresses are unfortunately stuck in thankless roles. Irene Adler’s role in this movie is actually minimal, and poor Ms McAdams barely has enough screen time to allow her character to work. She and Kelly Reilly are stuck with awful lines and their roles in this movie seem to be solely to distract impressionable young ladies from the amount of homoerotic vibes between the two male characters and reduce the amount of slash fanfiction from showing up on these young ladies’ blogs.
The plan doesn’t work. Holmes has several delicious and innuendo-laden lines to the stoic Dr Watson here, and there is an amazingly delivered monologue by Holmes where he attempts to get Dr Watson to leave Mary and spend time with him in some nice farm belonging to Holmes’s brother. When Dr Watson points out that he’d be spending time away from London with his fiancée rather than Holmes, Holmes’s face falls beautifully as he sputters in indignant dismay. No, I don’t think those impressionable young ladies are fooled by the presence of the two lovely leading ladies in this movie. Those naughty stories on Livejournal are definitely coming. The dynamic between Holmes and Dr Watson is made for such stories.
The movie is also well-paced enough to keep me entertained. The story is actually pretty stupid with lots of holes, but it’s fun to see Holmes solve befuddling scenarios with aplomb and gusto in a most entertaining kind of surreal manner. This is why casting Robert Downey Jr in the role of Holmes is a good decision: he can pull off Holmes’s more implausible connecting of point A to point C to arrive at point H while an actor with a more serious kind of gravity will fail at it. Meanwhile, the set of the movie is pretty impressive, with lots of steampunk vibes, nice scenery, and a few impressive scenes of massive destruction and mayhem here and there. Just don’t think when you are watching this movie, because the script of the movie will fail if you think too hard about what you see on the screen.
While it won’t be a classic movie for the ages, Sherlock Holmes is a cheerfully entertaining, big, and dumb steampunk-style reshaping of the two famous literary characters for the big screen. Don’t watch this for the plot, watch it for eye candy, the action scenes, and the chemistry between Holmes and Watson in case you need any inspiration for slash fanfiction.