Written by: Russell Davidson, CC2K Sports Editor
So what have we here? A neat setup, Sherlock Holmes and pal Watson as younger men, good casting, what with Robert Downey Jr., hot off of Iron Man and Tropic Thunder, as Holmes, Jude Law, good actor, as Watson, and a semi-great director, Guy Ritchie, he of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, manning the ship. How could they screw this up, you ask? Well, there’s always a way.
Let’s start with the good stuff. Downey is completely watchable, playing Holmes as more of a rascal, more of a physical hero than we’re used to. He’s continually beating people up, wisecracking, laying on the charm. Sadly, much of what Downey is saying is lost to his mumbling and low tones, like what did he just mutter? And, unforgivably, the last line of the film, delivered by Downey, presumably a zinger of some kind, can’t be deciphered. And I’ve got good hearing. Jude Law is serviceable, though he seems to have morphed from a pretty boy into David Niven, and he, also, is continually beating people up, these two are more like Batman and Robin then the Holmes and Watson of old. Still, I bought it. I can play along.
But there are problems, other than the audio. The bad guys are standard-issue Hellfire Club kinda dudes, all cowled and nefarious. Yeah, they sacrifice women. Yeah, they’re men of power. Yeah, Holmes and Co. will bring them down to size. Surely better villains than this coulda been conceived. Holmes’ arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty, has a cameo, presumably laying the groundwork for a sequel, but don’t get too far ahead of yourselves, guys. In fact, the film is full of “that makes no sense” moments, “that would never happen” moments, “that’s just stupid” moments. People are continually shooting at each other but no one is ever hit. The head bad guy is dressed up like a vampire, oddly, as he’s not. The flirting/semi-gay stuff between Holmes and Watson is strangely forced, yeah they’re friends, so why can’t it be left there?
It’s typical, sadly. A good premise, good actors, good director, but a bad script. Sherlock Holmes rides entirely on the shoulders of Robert Downey Jr., and that’s not quite enough. The film looks great, Ritchie reproduces the era commendably, it has some whizz-bang action scenes, has a dynamite end-credit sequence, and is paced well, but geeez, give me a bad guy you can sink your teeth into. Give me less plot preposterousness. Give me less predictability. Give me a decent script or give me death!