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Review: Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Directed by: Guy Ritchie

Premise: Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Watson (Jude Law) attempt to uncover and foil a plot by a mysterious underground organization in England.

What Works: Sherlock Holmes is extremely well cast. Actors Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law work very well together, with Downey as the compulsive but charming investigator and Law as the responsible assistant. The two bring a comic energy to the roles that complements Guy Ritchie’s frantic filmmaking style.

What Doesn’t: Although the film is a lot of fun, the story of Sherlock Holmes is muddled. Little time is spent developing the characters, who are all virtually the same at the end of the film as they were at the beginning. Oddly, the mystery of Sherlock Holmes does not require very much detective work and the film puts its emphasis on action. A lot of the chases and fights go on too long and do not have any narrative pay off. The film confuses cleverness with cheating as it withholds information to maintain the mystery and only reveals the details when the film’s running time determines that the case must be resolved.

Bottom Line: Sherlock Holmes has a lot of style but little substance. The film suffers from first chapter syndrome, spending its time setting up story elements for future installments but not doing enough to tell its own story. Should a follow up occur, hopefully it will build on the foundation established in this film.

Episode: #273 (January 17, 2010)