Opening 28 Jan 2010
Writing credits: Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg, Lionel Wigram, Arthur Conan Doyle
Principal actors: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan
In director Guy Ritchie’s version of Sherlock Holmes, Detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and stalwart Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) are younger, much more agile, and lively banter imbibed with innuendos and humor carry on between them. Scotland Yard’s Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan), with overwhelming help from the duo, catches fiendish Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who is convicted, and before his sentence is carried out, wants to see Holmes. Blackwood warns Holmes, “Three more shall die… Death is just the beginning”. When Watson affirms Blackwood is dead following his hanging, all of London breathes easier. So what then, after Blackwood is seen walking out of the cemetery and the city is gripped by terror, are they all to think, and do?
Ensconced in the intrigue is Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), the only woman to best Holmes, and she is a criminal force unto herself. Goaded by self-serving motives, she wants to hire Holmes to find someone. A Secret Order with private interests also wants to hire Holmes; add to the mix that goodly Watson wants to marry Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly), and the pains Holmes takes to keep that from happening. As pieces of the puzzle become clear, Holmes uses his extraordinary skills of deduction to arrive at the crux of the plot. Thrown together out of necessity, tension mounts as Holmes, Watson, and Adler use their brains and brawn in a race against the clock to thwart Blackwood’s deadly plan.
Attention to detail is phenomenal in this film, down to the end credits. The screenplay by Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg, is brisk, witty and compelling. Impeccable Production Design by Sarah Greenwood and Costume Design by Jenny Beavan whisk us back to turn-of-the-19th-century London. From the outset, Philippe Rousselot’s Cinematography is fast, fresh and encompassing, just as the Original Music by Hans Zimmer is embracing and unobtrusive. Although James Herbert‘s Editing is, for the most part, tight and well constructed, there are some glitches. One devise Herbert employs to give us an idea of Holmes' deduction process has impact the first time we see it; the second time is overkill, and there are a few instances when drawn-out scenes break the film’s momentum. Leaving that aside, the entire cast (James Fox, William Hope, Geraldine James, et al) is superb and award us with a film guaranteed to entertain. We are almost assured to a follow-up, with the manifestation of a fresh nemesis for Holmes at the end of the film. (Marinell Haegelin)