Director Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes is tons of fun. And that means a lot considering I'm not big on action-type films. The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adaptation centers around fast-acting, quick-thinking Detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) in pursuit of Black Magic-practicing serial killer Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong). Holmes is aided by sidekick Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) and love interest Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) who is caught between her personal and professional interests as she is hired to destroy Holmes. After thinking that he has aided in Blackwood's capture and subsequent punishment by execution, we learn that he isn't dead really. The second time around isn't nearly as easy for Holmes as Blackwood pulls out all the stops in his conquest to create a new world order.
Ritchie, together with screenwriters Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg effectively take a classic and transform it into a big-budget contemporary context. Downey Jr.'s Holmes is not the same Sherlock Holmes I would have envisioned based on what I've read. In this film, he is a sexy superhero who is all-knowing, but faltering into a bumbling fool when it comes to love and Downey Jr. plays this to perfection. He can fight as well physically as he can with reason and logic.
The playful brotherly chemistry between him and Law is electric, making what should otherwise be a dark story, comical in all the right spots. McAdams unfortunately is miscast as the American temptress and never really quite hits her best stride. And I appreciate the closed loops in storytelling as subplots like Watson's romance with governess Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly) are given just the right amount of detail. And let's not forget Philippe Rousselot's breathtaking cinematography, especially in the film's final action scene between Holmes and Blackwood over the Thames River.
Sherlock Holmes, released through Warner Bros., is now in theatres and surely we will be seeing further installments to come based on the success of its record-breaking Christmas Day opening. Grade: A
As an aside, check out these photos I got of Guy Ritchie, formerly Mr. Madonna Ciccone himself, at TIFF. I recall him being very gracious and approachable in person upon leaving his gala for Rocknrolla.