Downey, Law feel right at 'Holmes' in new roles

Friday, December 25, 2009
Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. in Sherlock Holmes.

The best advice I can give you going into Sherlock Holmes is to leave all preconceived notions of the iconic sleuth at the theater door. Director Guy Ritchie and crew have revamped the character, and for better or worse, have given us one heck of a ride to close out 2009.

Our new Sherlock is a specimen. He's rough, he physical and he's mesmerizing. Downey's take on the character is a breath of fresh air into a man we all thought we knew. Sherlock Holmes has been thought of as composed, thoughtful and diligent -- essentially everything Downey's incarnation is not.

The film opens with Holmes (Downey) and his assistant Dr. Watson (Jude Law) catching the killer Lord Blackwood, who's murdered five women, thus closing the book on their final case together. But when Blackwood rises from the grave after being hanged, Holmes and Watson are drawn into the case once more.

As the duo weave their way through the shadows of secret societies and dark magic, they soon realize that Blackwood's miraculous resurrection might not be what it seems. Along the way, they must deal with Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), a mysterious damsel from Holmes' past and her connection with the matters at hand. They also must sift through an ever growing trail of dead bodies that Blackwood leaves in his wake and piece together the clues each leaves behind to create a jagged image of what Blackwood is planning.

What Holmes and Watson come to find out is that Blackwood's lust for power and domination literally knows no bounds and they must race to stop the devilish specter before he carries out his most sinister plan to date. That leads them to the doors of Parliament.

Holmes is one of the most fun movies to hit the big screen this year. It definitely has its flaws, but what it lacks in some areas, it more than makes up for it elsewhere. The biggest complaint I had with the film was that it lagged pretty hard for about seven minutes in the middle. Other than that, it was wonderful to see this new creation of Holmes Richie and Downey constructed.

This is by far Richie's best outing in years. For the first time in his feature film career, he left the screenwriting duties to someone else and focused solely on directing and it served him well. Ritchie has matured as a filmmaker, yet held tight to the style that had him famous. In Holmes, he's able to harness Downey's charm, Law's loyalty and McAdams' sultriness and deliver a very entertaining flick.

Downey delivers yet another great performance as Holmes. He deviates from what was expected out from the icon and creates something that's completely his own. It's nice to see a character who is almost debilitated by his keen sense of observation and the difficulties it causes in his life, such as dinner out with friends.

What made this film work was the chemistry between Downey and Law. You had to believe these gentlemen had been together for years, standing true at each other's sides and it's simple to do. They're able to bounce lightning quick dialogue off each another and are as comfortable together other as a well-worn deerstalker.

Holmes is much like a scorned lover as Watson attempts to move on with his life with his fiancée and it's Holmes attempts to keep his assistant by his side that bring some of the heartiest chuckles in the film.

The movie doesn't end with a hint of a sequel; it blatantly smacks you in the forehead and screams "see ya a year from now." But after an interesting two hours, it's welcomed. Even the credits are more entertaining that most films this year.

Final Cut: Ritchie, Downey and Law have given new life to an icon that has long been thought of as stiff and overly intellectual. Downey mixes brains and brawn and delivers a character who is interesting and one we would love to continue being a fly on the wall for his adventures. While the film lags slightly midway through, it fits a lot of story in two hours. A definite must see.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Sherlock Holmes

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong

Director: Guy Ritchie

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material including violence, disturbing imagesa and a scene of suggestive material

Runtime: 2 hr. 9 min.

In theaters now from Warner Bros.