I thought this was going to suck didn't I. Shit. Well we all get one wrong every once in a while guys, so you'll have to forgive me. Plus it had a god awful trailer. But I'm not here to apologize for my apparently ill-advised predictions, because there's nothing better as a film fan then being wrong in this respect. To clarify for a moment, Sherlock Holmes isn't ground-breaking, mind-blowing or face-melting. What it is is fun. I enjoyed myself. And its pleasing to say that because I'm on quite the run of being disappointed by blockbusters. Zombieland underwhelmed me, as did Star Trek, as did Avatar, but this a movie I was so looking forward to ripping apart piece by piece, was perhaps the single most airheadedly enjoyable experience of 2009 for me. And this despite the plot being cack, the villain being weak and Rachel McAdams being dull.
What I was most apprehensive about was the turning of Sherlock Holmes, a man who above all else fought with his mind, into Bruce Lee, complete with scenes of bare knuckle-boxing and kung-fu. Just no, all my instincts were telling me, but Ritchie made it work, because frankly the guy was born to make this kind of film. His career went downhill because he wanted to be a great film-maker, ignoring his true calling just to be an entertaining one. Even in his early films, the heavily stylized motif showed us a director made for the bug budget blockbuster, yet it has taken him this long to finally make one. And sure enough he handles it exquisitely, every frame brimming with style and life and even turns a kung-fu fighting Sherlock Holmes from a very unappealing idea into an awesome one, due to Holmes deeply methodical approach to his fighting, planning out every move in calm logical thought in advance to his brawls. The terrific execution of this idea, made the bare-knuckle boxing scene, something I was close to dreading, into pretty much my favorite fight scene of the year, coz it was clever see. Downey Jr meanwhile is terrific, bringing much more to this then his other multi-million dollar character Tony Stark, and gives an awesomely crowd-pleasing performance here. I scoffed at his Golden Globe nomination the other day, but given that his category is limited to musical and comedy I can make my peace with it, because he is very funny and entertaining throughout. Jude Law handles the always difficult role of Watson very well, making him of sterner stuff then previous Watson's and him being the better character for it. Their inter-play is the main sell of this movie really, and given its action movie, this is kind of a Victorian lethal weapon. A buddy movie for the 1800's. And the most purely fun movies of the year.
Now to the flaws. The plot and mystery is kind of crap, and Mark Strong was kind of a boring as a villain to be honest. He's gone from an actor I was really interested in, to becoming less and less intriguing with every film he makes. McAdams has a sucky role, definitely, but she could have made better of it. But like when a comedy can get away with anything if its funny. A blockbuster can do whatever as long as it genuinely entertains, and I'm glad to say that was the case here.