(No longer in theaters)
Susan Downey, Dan Lin, Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram
Warner Bros. Pictures/Village Roadshow
Dec 25, 2009
Given that Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes turns the great sleuth (Robert Downey Jr.) and his sidekick, Dr. Watson (Jude Law), into the boxing and martial-arts champions of London, the movie is surprisingly bearable. It’s overlong and skitters around for a good 45 minutes before a plot kicks in, but Ritchie adds fillips of style to the incessant fights—he might have made a good director for the flop The Avengers picture. Having Holmes battle a villain who might or might not have supernatural powers actually conjures up the world of Arthur Conan Doyle, who in real life had too much faith in his five senses, which made him an easy mark for tricksters.
The only reason to see it is Downey: No one in film is more likable when playing dislikable people. When not on a case, his Holmes is not merely a depressive but a nasty, dissolute, hollow-eyed slob with a compulsion to test sedating drugs on his hapless pooch. Law’s drab Watson appears to be disgusted by him—to the point where the mystery is how he could have ever become Holmes’s friend, let alone the detective’s Boswell. But Downey’s boy-king spirit shines through. That spirit isn’t Holmesian (not much kickboxing in Conan Doyle), but by now we’ve seen so many good, bad, and indifferent Sherlocks that it’s almost a relief to get something different, however wrongheaded. And there’s no such thing as too much Downey.