Guy Ritchie (Snatch
) attempts to reinvent one of the world's most iconic literary figures as an action hero in this brawny, visually arresting period adventure. Robert Downey Jr. is an intriguing choice for the Great Detective, and if he occasionally murmurs his lines a pitch or two out of hearing range, his trademark bristling energy and off-kilter humor do much to sell Ritchie's notion of Holmes. Jude Law is equally well-equipped as a more active Dr. Watson--he's closer to Robert Duvall's vigorous portrayal in The Seven Per-Cent Solution
than to Nigel Bruce--and together, they make for an engaging team. Too bad the plot they're thrust into is such a mess--a bustling and disorganized flurry of martial arts, black magic, and overwhelming set pieces centered around Mark Strong's Crowley-esque cult leader (no Professor Moriarty, he), who returns from the grave to exact revenge. Downey and Law's amped-up Holmes and Watson are built for the challenge of riding this roller coaster with the audience; however, Rachel McAdams as Holmes's love interest, Irene Adler (here a markedly different character than the one in Arthur Conan Doyle's "A Scandal in Bohemia"), and Kelly Reilly as Mary Morstan, the future Mrs. Watson, are cast to the wind in the wake of Ritchie's hurricane pace. One can imagine this not sitting well with ardent Sherlockians; all others may find this Sherlock Holmes
marvelous if calorie-free popcorn entertainment, with the CGI rendering of Victorian-era London particularly appealing eye candy. --Paul Gaita
From the Studio
Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) has always been the smartest man in the room...until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large-professor Moriarty (Jared Harris)-and not only is he Holmes' intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may actually give him an advantage over the renowned detective. When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead, the evidence, as construed by Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan), points to suicide. But Sherlock Holmes deduces that the prince has been the victim of murder-a murder that is only one piece of a larger and much more portentous puzzle, designed by professor Moriarty. The cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead of Holmes as he spins a web of death and destruction-all part of a greater plan that, if he succeeds, will change the course of history.