JT Film Review

70 – Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Sherlock Holmes REVIEW

3.5/5 stars

Director – Guy Ritchie

Cast – Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Kelly Reilly


– followed by Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows


Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes is the first Holmes movie to hit the big screen in 21 years, the other latest being the comedy Without a Clue, starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley. This version chucks out all previous ones, and goes for a flat out action/comedy tone. The comedy is subdued though, so it certainly does not overwhelm the movie, keeping the action/adventure/danger elements front and center. This is essentially the Victorian Lethal Weapon.

While Conan Doyle most certainly did not write his stories as such, I won’t dwell on the change in tone too much. The movie will offend most Holmes purists, but the Holmes “knowledgeable but indifferent” (in which group I place myself) will be amused by numerous references to the original stories. Most surprisingly though, is how true to the books the portrayal of Watson is. I think Jude Law would have fit in with Jeremy Brett as a great Watson of the traditional mold.

But, on to the movie itself. Its cinematography is dark and gloomy, giving us a London Dickens would have been proud of. Fog lurks on the muddy Thames and dirt coats the streets. However the pace of the movie and the storytelling is so hyper-active that we are never lulled into a feeling of gloom or despair. There is always another witty quip or fast, frantic action scene heading down the pipes. Sherlock is funny and (I think) knows he is, but in a dry, ironic way that would make Woody Allen jealous.

Where the movie may lose points is in the story-telling itself. The plot is a bit muddled, and asks us to believe in witchcraft and magic (which actually had a resurgence of interest in the Victorian Era) throughout the movie only to yank the rug out from under us  extremely later on. Don’t get me wrong, I actually prefer that magic in the end was not the answer, but to have built the whole movie up on it only to wipe it all out felt like cheating in a way. Ritchie and Co. milked all the grandiosity and fear out of black magic, only to discard it when the plot needed wrapping up.


Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes gets through on its quick pace, quick wit, and Boy’s Own Adventure bravado. This is not the Holmes of old, but then again, if you can’t beat Jeremy Brett why try. This movie is Holmes for the masses, but despite that fact it manages to carve out a nice personality for itself. The only real problem that I can see is that the action is a bit frantic and the story gets a bit muddled. However, the solid-to-great performances really make this an above average adventure.



“Sherlock Holmes” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia



December 28, 2009 - Posted by | 3.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Thriller, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , ,

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