SYNOPSIS: Sherlock Holmes and Watson single-handedly bring Lord Blackwood to justice and to the end of the hangman's noose. Soon, though, they are embroiled in another mystery as it appears that Blackwood has returned from the dead to continue his reign of terror.
Director Guy Ritchie brings us his interpretation of the Victorian Era sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, as rarely seen in previous incarnations. Throughout the history of television and film, there have been many versions of Sherlock Holmes, most notable in my book being the detective portrayed by Basil Rathbone in the 1940s and Jeremy Brett in the 1980s. Both of those portrayals showed Sherlock as a prim and proper gentleman, albeit with many faults and traits that lead us to dislike him. Downey's Holmes does not bother to dress the character up in fine robes or demeanor as a means to coat the character's faults. Instead, Ritchie makes Holmes as gritty on the outside as he is on the inside.
This Sherlock Holmes is also as much physical as he is cerebral, which is quite a departure from previous incarnations. His physicality makes the film more kinetic and balances the slower pace of the mystery plot itself. Even Watson, played by Jude Law, strays from common convention of the overweight character by being as able as his partner.
Both characters are well-rounded, both in their prowess and in their failings. And Law and Downey continue in the tradition of the strong relationship between the lead characters. But Holmes and Watson are only as strong and effective as the villain placed before them. Mark Strong plays the treacherous Lord Blackwood back from the grave daring Holmes to stop him and his machinations. But is Blackwood the darkest that Holmes must bring back to justice?
The film is gritty and dark, just as the characters are. Is this version better than those that came before it? Maybe, maybe not. Every Sherlock Holmes fan will have their own preference. But at least this attempt is anything but elementary.
Worth: Matinee and DVD