Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes is the perfect cure for the holiday blues. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than hanging out in pseudo steampunk 19th century London with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law.
Sherlock Holmes balances the explosions and fight scenes one would expect from a Ritchie film with a crisp, witty script. The plot is fairly straightforward: Holmes and Watson’s last case before Watson moves out of their rooms and strikes out on his own is that of Lord Blackwood, a supposed practitioner of dark arts. When Blackwood’s hanging has odd results, “the game is afoot.”
The film rests largely on the charm of Downey and Law, who carry off the Holmes/Watson dynamic with aplomb. I found myself sitting back and just letting the bromance work its magic. After Iron Man, it should come as no surprise that Downey can play the dissolute genius to the letter. And that this film, too, will kick off a franchise is a given. His Holmes is as adept with his brain as he is with his fists, and the defining characteristics of the sleuth — his pipe, his violin, his addiction — are all present. Law’s Watson is a great counterpoint: Perfectly pressed, tolerant of his friend’s vices, yet not without his own. Rachel McAdams as Irene and Kelly Reilly as Mary round out the principal cast and they both hold their own despite the fact that Holmes and Watson’s dynamic is a thousand times more couple-like than their relationships with the women.
The mystery in Sherlock Holmes is something that’s fairly easy to solve, but that doesn’t make the process any less entertaining.