Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sherlock Holmes: A Victorian Buddy-Cop movie!

When I discovered that Guy Richie, the British bloke responsible for the modern English gangster movies instead of Neil Dog Soldiers Marshall, was making a Sherlock Holmes movie I was intrigued but also worried. While it's fair to say that Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch were great movies in '98 and '00 respectively, Richie's involvement with Kabbalah and an ill-fated marriage to Madonna from 2000 to 2008 seemed to have a disastrous effect on his work. During that time he directed Revolver and RocknRolla both of which were complete and utter shit. I guess I was afraid he'd set the movie in 2009 where Holmes would carry a "Desert Eagle Point Five-O" or some such nonsense.

I fretted needlessly, I'm pleased to say that Richie has emerged from his dark decade with Kabbalah and Madonna behind him and he was able to resurrect his floundering career where he left in 2000 to bring us his unique vision of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective introducing the character to a new generation.

Richie has actually done the unthinkable - while somewhat stylised artistically and treated more as a tongue-in-cheek action comedy than I'm sure Conan Doyle would have intended; this is still actually the most authentic representation of Sherlock Holmes ever on screen. In this movie, Holmes is an irresponsible, miserable drunkard who passes out nightly on his floor, subjects his dog to frightful life-threatening experiments, endlessly mocks and insults Dr. Watson, partakes in bare-knuckle fistfights and seems equally comfortable with wearing rags as he does fine suits and thankfully sweet Lucas he never dons a Deerstalker [that silly flapped cap he's often erroneously depicted wearing].

As much as Richie was responsible for this, most credit must be directed towards the wonderful Robert Downey Jr. for adding his own personal flair to Holmes' more devilish side. I think when one reads Holmes and they see his endless struggle with cocaine addiction and eccentric personality, there are a few actors who come to mind, but none more so than Downey Jr. who is known for a trip or two but is enjoying the fruits of an incredible second chance in Hollywood. His often hilarious and indeed a more physical action-oriented performance than ever before [Iron Man included] earned him a well deserved Golden Globe on Sunday night.

Downey Jr. himself is supported by Jude Law who appears in more shit [Skycaptain, A.I. and All the Kings Men] than he does worthy films, but next to Enemy at The Gates, this is by far Law's best role and I cannot fault his representation of Dr. John Watson. Babylon A.D.'s Mark Strong is simply splendid as the villain of the piece, Lord Blackwood whose evil black-magical scheme threatens all of England. Rachel McAdams sadly did not play to her strengths and was a bit wasted - Oh and her lingerie scene featured in the teaser trailer was cut from the final film which I was none to pleased about either let me tell you.

Hans Zimmer's quirky score fits the movie extremely well and is somewhat different to his previous efforts for this kind of movie, drawing more from his experience scoring An Everlasting Piece than anything. Sherlock Holmes also benefits from some extraordinarily choreographed fight scenes which contain the interesting element of having them completely described and subsequently shown in slow motion before they actually happen in real-time on screen. The action in the reminder of the movie is also top-notch featuring a climactic brawl on the Tower Bridge in London which is only under construction and elsewhere, multiple almost Micheal Bay-like explosions in a slaughterhouse.

Final Verdict: Richie's Sherlock Holmes features far more action than one would traditionally associate with the character and setting. You can safely erase Michael Caine's poorly misjudged attempt from 20 years ago and for those of you who may have grown up embracing Basil Rathbone or Peter Cushing's representations or even in my case - Jeremy Brett's; and you're expecting the same level of clinical detective work - well you'll be sorely disappointed. This movie is an action comedy, albeit a somewhat more clever action comedy then your average Victorian buddy cop movie. What a great way to start the year.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****1/2


Unknown said...

Is this not just the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen with Robert Downey Jr and a really poor script??? The opening half hour has some of the worst "badinage" between Holmes and Watson I have ever seen in a film. And the fact that they use technology that wasn't invented until a couple of hundred years later as the hook in the film really pissed me off.
When I heard Downey got ANY form of award for this film it confirmed my suspicion that the Golden Globes are a pile of shit, something they have in common with this film. No stars.

Civilian Overseer said...

Cubs, Calm down, it's only a movie. I happened to like it, thought it was more entertaining than Avatar.

BTW Colonel, do you have anything to say on the Chinese banning Avatar 2D?

Bruce Russell said...

I found the Holmes/Watson relationship as portrayed in the film to be reminiscent of the real-world relationship of you and Mark.

Civilian Overseer said...

Ah, good comparison Bruce but which is which?

Bruce Russell said...

Which indeed?

Civilian Overseer said...

Bruce On one hand we have a genius of questionable sanity and the other an ex military man with a gambling problem. Based on this evidence, I'm going to advance the theory that Mark is Holmes and the Colonel is his sidekick. Do you concur?

Bruce Russell said...


By the way- My word verification for this post was "jings."