Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Very interesting, if not thoroughly intellectual take on the legendary detective. I liked a number of things that might irk others; for example, the revisionist performance of Robert Downey Jr. as the titular detective. Unlike with Star Trek or the recent Bonds, I like the modern touches he brings to the character, such as his ramshackle, intellect-based fighting style, his dependent and not necessarily hetero obsession with his partner, Watson, and his very fragile sense of the outside world. In our age of Wikipedia and Google Earth, the information that bounces around in our head is sometimes quite distracting and overwhelming, so we can sympathize when the facts that Sherlock naturally absorbs get the better of him, and he becomes a vague, confused mess of a man. Downey absolutely nails this aspect of the character, possibly due to his infamous experience(s) with drugs.

The other performances in the film are not nearly as successful. Jude Law needs to be at a 10 to capture what Downey brings at a 1, and it shows in their scenes together, which he barely survives. Rachel McAdams is a good foil for Downey, but she's trapped by the unfortunate decision to make her character from New Jersey and not a fellow Londoner. The villain is well-played by Mark Strong, but he is overshadowed by his lack of screen time and the unseen presence of Professor Moriarty, whose absence from the film hurts the self-containment of the film; there must be sequels!

The pace is quick, although not quite blockbuster pace. The film contains martial arts fight sequences and well-written dialogue and deduction scenes, which was a pleasant surprise. Sherlocks musings are unorganized, and almost incidental; there is a hint of Jack Sparrow in Downey's performance, albeit with a lost, pathetic undertone that reminds one that while Johnny Depp owned the Viper Room where River Phoenix ODed on heroin, Downey came fuckin' close to ODing himself. Guy Ritchie delivers the film he was hired to make, but not one that matches the energy, originality, and fun of his early gangster pictures, namely his 2 masterpieces Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. However, it is more entertaining than Revolver or Rock n' Rolla, and definitely shows his ability to handle more broad, general audience fare.

Recommended for fans of Downey, detective stories, or big-budget fare on the slightly intellectual side. Can't wait for Sherlock 2: Deduce This.

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