May 06, 2010
The "original" conceit here--Holmes as a brainy brawler and risk taker--improves on the whole "addict" meme, and Robert Downey Jr. pulls it off well. Even Jeremy Brett was allowed to demonstrate some boxing finesse at times, so (along with Eric Raymond) I wouldn't even consider it out of canon.
Sherlock Holmes, though, does fall prey to one of the two more annoying "hip" cinematic ticks of late, namely post-processing the color into a dull sepia palette that consists of muddy shades of brown and bluish gray. (The other is the loathsome and lazy shaky-cam, thankfully absent here).
Robert Downey takes on the role as half MacGyver and half House. Jude Law holds up his half of the duo as straight-man Wilson. No, that's Dr. Watson. Hey, how about Downey and Law do a House episode and Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard do a Victorian-era Holmes. Seriously, it'd be a hoot.
Either way, my disbelief was totally suspended until the final act, when it turned into Iron Man. Now, Iron Man is a great actioner, but if I wanted to watch Robert Downey Jr. save the world from terrorists attempting to end LIFE AS WE KNOW IT, then, you know, I would have watched Iron Man.
It's worse than the generic FIST FIGHT at GREAT HEIGHTS with a WOMAN IN PERIL. Evil villains with British accents conspiring to take over the world is a plot device well past its use-by date. Mike Meyers has deservedly mocked the genre to death several times already. As my sister Kate puts it:
POLITICAL MACHINATIONS by POWERFUL PEOPLE is a writer's ultimate cop-out, a contemporary deux ex machina. . . . There are really no words to express how unbelievably boring this plot device is.
The great thing about Die Hard (and III, though II fails in part for this exact reason, while IV manages to rise above it thanks to an exuberant disregard for the laws of physics and that Mac guy) is that the evil villains with British accents turn out to have no political motives whatsoever.
But that and the cinematography notwithstanding, everything about Sherlock Holmes is so much fun that I'm game for a sequel. But let's come up with good caper next time. The movie concludes by introducing Moriarty as Holmes's new nemesis. Fine, just don't have him conspiring to take over the world.