Director Guy Ritchie is known for making films about causally violent thugs with humor, style and panache. His latest effort is a highly stylized reinterpretation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Victorian masterpiece. The Holmes of this action, adventure-illusionist construction is played impeccably by the great Robert Downey Jr. as a master of the martial arts.
He is as brilliant as the legendary character and amusing as he flirts with Jude Law’s witty Dr. Watson. Ritchie lets us in on Holmes’ mental acuity by creating a number of quick- cut sequences that preview how the detective will unleash a reign of terror on his criminal opponents. The somewhat convoluted plot tells a diabolical tale about an evil villain named Blackwood (Mark Strong) who after escaping miraculously from an execution creates a doomsday machine designed to “off” the House of Lords. While story is not its strongest suit, Sarah Greenwood’s set design and Phillip Rousselot’s lensing complemented by some great CGI make for an entertaining evening at the movies. With today’s fast paced world, this post modern version of Sherlock Holmes might just be the formula for uber-producer Joel Silver to start up a new franchise. Only time and box office receipts will render a result. For Downey, after-all, there is always “Iron Man”.