When it was announced that Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director Guy Ritchie was going to be directing a new take on the classic detective character of Sherlock Holmes, it didn't exactly strike me as a perfect match. The hyper-stylish visuals, convoluted plots, and quick witted, often swear-filled dialogue found in Ritchie's movies isn't what Sherlock Holmes has been all about. So needless to say I was dubious about the project.
But then came the news that Robert Downey Jr. had signed on to play Holmes, and my anticipation and trust in the project suddenly heightened. So how has it turned out? Well, it's not exactly perfect (far from it, actually), but thanks to the trademark charisma of Downey Jr., the competent support from Jude Law as Holmes's faithful assistant, Dr. Watson, and Mark Strong as an adequately intimidating villain, Ritchie's take on Sherlock Holmes is fun, feeling simultaneously fresh yet respecting the source character entirely.
It's just a shame, then, that there's more problems with it than one would like, resulting in an enjoyable, almost throwaway film instead of one that makes a long-term impression and solidifies itself as one of the takes on the character.
The plot of what is sure to be the first of a new series of Holmes tales sees Mark Strong as villain Lord Blackwood, a power-hungry man sentenced to death near the beginning of the story. On the case of catching him is Sherlock Holmes and his assistant, Dr. Watson, who are surprised to find that he has risen from the dead after being hung. So the game is afoot as Holmes and Watson set out to find out how this is possible and what Blackwood is now up to, all the while having to deal with the law, as well as Irene Adler, a mischievous figure from Holmes's past.