Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sherlock Holmes (***1/2)

Sherlock Holmes. 134 mins. PG-13. Directed by Guy Ritchie. Written by Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Eddie Marsan, and Mark Strong.

Fun and entertaining in equal doses, yet ultimately disposable, this Guy Ritchie-directed reboot of Sherlock Holmes fits the bill nicely for a night out at the movies. Robert Downey Jr. continues his hot streak as the venerable detective Sherlock Holmes. This 2009 Holmes is just as smart as prior incarnations of the character, but Downey adds his typical sense of mischief, sarcasm, and reckless abandon into the mix. His Holmes is also quite a fighter, and kicks an enormous amount of ass in the film - something I'm pretty sure Basil Rathbone never got to do. Downey is matched quite capably by Jude Law as Watson. The duo's back-and-forth, bickering bromance is the heart of the movie. Less effective is the mystery, which is easily solved, with all the major clues delivered in just one scene. One needn't have Sherlock Holmes' brilliant mind to put this puzzle together. Watching the movie, I was reminded of 1998's The Mask of Zorro, another update of a popular character from the first half of the decade. Like Zorro, Sherlock Holmes manages to please its audience without ever really letting them invest in the events unfolding on screen. Holmes is also about 20 minutes too long - another trait shared by The Mask of Zorro. I'm happy to see Guy Ritchie get some mainstream success, after nearly killing off all the goodwill he earned with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. And it sounds like this isn't the last we'll see of Downey's Sherlock Holmes. A sequel has already been greenlit, which is good because there's still room to perfect the formula of this new franchise.

- John


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