I am a huge Guy Richie fan (Snatch, RocknRolla). Even though most of his films are similar in that they involve British gangsters, each one has something that makes it stand out from the others. When I heard that Guy Richie would be directing Sherlock Holmes, I was intrigued to see how this departure from his genre of choice would turn out. Though a longer runtime made me skeptical at the last moment, this film uses every minute to its advantage to create a great film.
Sherlock Holmes takes place early in the classic Doyle universe. Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man) has built up a reputation as a world class detective, and just closed a case involving the murder of 5 young girls. The culprit, Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong, RocknRolla), is sentenced to death by hanging but promises that he will not stay dead. A few days later, true to his word, Lord Blackwood rises from the grave and begins working on his master plan. Intrigued by these turn of events, Holmes begins his investigation in an attempt to explain the unexplainable.
If you have ever seen a Guy Richie movie you will notice that Sherlock Holmes looks nothing like his previous work. There are a few moments that are reminiscent of his other films, such as the slow motion fight calculation of Holmes or some out of order story telling, but for the most part it's new. Richie proves that he can do something other than a gangster film and does so magnificently. He delivers an incredible recreation of 1800's England from the wardrobe to the surroundings, and gets great performances out of the cast. His last attempt at mixing it up created the pile that was Swept Away, but with Sherlock Holmes Richie proves that he is far from a one trick pony.
Robert Downey Jr. was the perfect choice for the role of Holmes. He captures the disheveled nature of the character without going too far and still maintaining the sharp intellect. Though at times his dialog is a bit muffled (which may or may not be a part of the scene) his overall performance is phenomenal. Jude Law (All the King's Men) does a wonderful job as Watson, Holmes' faithful partner, and creates a believable camaraderie with Downey Jr. on screen. I did have a problem with Rachel McAdams (The Time Traveler's Wife) at first, and not just because she wasn't on screen as much as I would have liked. I was unaware that her character hails from America, so McAdams' lack of an accent was upsetting until I did some research. Her delivery is still a little lackluster but as I just said, she isn't on screen a lot so it doesn't have much of an effect.
Most directors have a signature style that gives audiences an idea of how a film will be presented before they enter the theater. Placing Guy Richie on a poster for Sherlock Holmes creates an expectation that may or may not fit with your view of the subject matter. With this film, Richie proved that he can do a mainstream movie that everyone can enjoy (outside of his usual niche audience). If you have 2 hours to spare, I highly recommend seeing Sherlock Holmes. You won't be disappointed that you took the case.
Saturday, February 13, 2016, Watertown, NY