The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Is there a more perfect actor working today who could have embodied Guy Ritchie's vision of Sherlock Holmes? I don't think so. Robert Downey Jr. is equal parts smooth criminal and hyper-manic genius. Sherlock Holmes has seen numerous film incarnations over the years, but never something like this.
Ritchie's 'Holmes' isn't so much a reinvention as it is a much deeper character study. The film delves into Holmes' life and his partnership with his lifelong friend and companion Dr. Watson (Jude Law) in a way previous adaptations have not. Here Watson is about to be married, threatening to leave Holmes alone. Holmes can't bare to lose his righthand man, possibly the only person keeping him on this side of sane, so he continues to concoct ways to get Watson and his bride to be to break up, but to no avail.
Here, Holmes and Watson bicker like an old married couple, or a pair of brothers who have depended on one another for far too long. Law and Downey Jr. play off each other as well as any onscreen duo imagineable. Their dynamic is the most interesting part of the movie.
Holmes is slightly more manic than what I remember of past Holmes versions I've seen over the years. There have been so many that I've lost count. Holmes suffers from over stimulation, self-loathing, and an extra dash of Downey's signature cockiness to keep things entertaining. Holmes has also gotten himself into tip-top fighting shape as he takes on attackers with lightning quick karate jabs to the throat, body, and face, but in typical Holmes fashion, all of these moves are thought out logically before hand.
The formula from the old Holmes stories is alive and well here. If that's what you're looking for, then you'll adore this film, if you were looking for a reinvention of the age old schematics, maybe you should wait to see if the inevitable sequel offers anything in that area. In short, characterization is revamped with crackling success here, but the plot is somewhat elementary, my dear reader.