Guy Ritchie and Sherlock Holmes fit? Why, it’s elementary my dear movie fan. This is one of the most entertaining thrillers of the year and the fantastic team of Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law are a big part of the reason why.
They take top honors as the year’s best bro-mance, arguing like an old married couple while deep down knowing that they’d be lost without each other. Downey is Holmes and Law is sidekick Dr. Watson, embroiled in a plot where the black-magic-practicing Lord Blackwood (a perfectly grave and menacing Mark Strong) has risen from the dead after being sentenced to hang. Rachel McAdams also shows up as Irene Adler, the only criminal who has ever gotten the best of Holmes.
Downey Jr. brings quick-wit, cunning, and a scruffy toughness to a role long seen as stuffy and dry, while Law adds a distinguished charm that, at times, spills over into testy aggressiveness (which is funniest at Holmes most annoying). Both toss off the one-liners with ease. Ritchie’s directorial style also comes through, from the dark, grimy Victorian London-styled production values to the violent boxing and martial arts bouts. Holmes’ mindset (such as the steps he takes to neutralize a suspect, interpret clues, follow the deception) also brings out Ritchie’s ability to create an ultra-stylized flashback.
There are also a few purely thrilling action set-pieces involving a boat and an unfinished bridge. The plot, by three screenwriters, is a little on the convoluted side but it gets the job done with plot twist on top of plot twist. With all the brutal violence and style, you can be sure that this isn’t your grandpa’s Sherlock Holmes, but it will have you drooling for the sequel nonetheless, slated for release in early 2012.