Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Via my forced high school readings of a novel or two and landing on a movie during a bored late night channel surf, I’m not surprised I remember very little of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation Sherlock Holmes. Literally, the only things that come to mind are: He was a condescending bastard who smoked a pipe and wore a silly plaid hat with a matching half cape thingy. I suppose that was a long-winded way of saying I wasn’t overly impressed with the famed detective and not so much in interested in his re-imaging in Sherlock Holmes. Of course with Guy Ritchie involved with the project, this wasn’t going to be anything your grandmother would recognize or approve of (that’s a good thing by the way).

How right that preceding statement is. Sherlock Holmes is an unexpectedly fun action flick that showcases another side of the stodgy private eye altogether.

For starters, Mr. Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is fond of his mind altering drugs. I suppose that living with his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson (Jude Law) affords him the luxury of high-class experimentation. Like Einstein, it is probably at the root of his genius. Holmes is also a tough son of a bitch. The man, it turns out, likes to put a beating on a foe, be it for fun or survival. Ritchie and screenwriters Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg also keep his pompous attitude intact (although that may just be a British thing).

Setting aside his character “flaws” there is a mystery afoot. A Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), while dabbling in the occult, has sacrificed a few women for the cause. For his crimes, he’s hanged and declared dead. But is he? Seems, his beliefs in the dark arts has given him the honor of life after death. Scotland Yard, led by Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan) is befuddled, and as expected, they call upon the prowess of Holmes and Watson to provide the solution.

I won’t give the twists and turns of Sherlock Holmes away; what I will say is the film just expects you to believe that all the dots connect — you’ll miss all the clues as they’re happened upon. But the fun of the movie isn’t about trying to solve the case yourself, Ritchie wants to the viewer to get swallowed up in the chase. From backroom fight clubs to a ship building dock to a partially completed Tower Bridge, the action is light-hearted and quick. The effects leave a bit to be desired but the overall dirty feel of 1891 London is spot on.

Helping us to ignore some of the holes in the mystery is the impressive work of Downey Jr. as the super sleuth. At first glance I thought he was a casting mistake but after further analysis he and Holmes have quite a lot in common. Jude Law, too, brings an interesting take to Dr. Watson, whom I recall was generally characterized as a buffoon in prior movies. A fair amount of time is used developing the friendship between the two and it really pays off.

Aside from the typical potholes a crime mystery stumbles through when trying to come together, the only other questionable piece of the puzzle is the role and casting of Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, Holmes’ love interest. McAdams herself just looks and acts like a fish out of water and her role doesn’t have much meat or add any purpose to the film — hell, she actually detracts from it when she is in it. If anything, I get the feeling she was tacked on late in the project solely for her “girl next door” good looks. Thankfully, her screen time is minor so Sherlock Holmes doesn’t suffer long term.

Speaking of long term, this revisionism of Holmes has a clear path to becoming a continuing box office success. And if most of the players return for a sequel (I can’t imagine they wouldn’t), I’ll be back to watch the next mystery unfold with them.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
4 Star Rating: Good


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The Critical Movie Critics

I'm an old, miserable fart set in his ways. Some of the things that bring a smile to my face are (in no particular order): Teenage back acne, the rain on my face, long walks on the beach and redneck women named Francis. Oh yeah, I like to watch and criticize movies.

'Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes (2009)' have 14 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 29, 2010 @ 1:26 am John De Vera

    The movie is enjoyable film with a fun score. Great use of sound and environment. A movie that you’ll be asking for more.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 3, 2010 @ 2:47 pm Jeff Van

    robert downey jr was great but the plot overall was pretty weak

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 9, 2010 @ 6:49 am Jessie Jacob

    I absolutely like the movie! Most especially the plot of the story. Other effects like sounds are blended well too.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 12, 2010 @ 7:10 am John Ylod

    Entertaining, fun, funny. I recommend this movie for a lazy Sunday afternoon, with a cold beer. Definitely a decent movie compared to all the CRAP produced lately. And yes, I meant to include here Avatar too..

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 20, 2010 @ 6:21 am Josh

    the movie sucked

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 31, 2010 @ 2:42 pm David Cooks

    I think movie was okay but not up to the expectation mark.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 17, 2010 @ 2:27 pm Infant Snowsuit

    The official poster for this movie actually makes it look kind of lame, but the movie itself was not bad. I would’ve preferred if there was more focus on actual detective work, as opposed to humor.

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 2, 2010 @ 11:33 am Blake Dukes

    I think Robert Downey Jr. is hillarious in most everything he does! I liked both Iron Man one and two, and I love Sherlock Holmes! It’s a quick witted comedy that has me on the floor cracking up! Two thumbs way way up for me!!!

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 4, 2010 @ 4:52 pm ChaCha

    Sherlock Holmes is a great movie! I took my children to watch in when it was still in theaters. I would watch it again if it was still in theaters. I don’t think my little t.v. would do it justice. I enjoy action!

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 1, 2010 @ 5:43 am Mathew Daniela

    Great movie but I can not give it more than 7 out of 10.

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 28, 2010 @ 6:14 am ps3

    I found this movie a little to dark in the filming. Its a brilliant story but the director could have done a better job than this

  12. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 6, 2011 @ 9:06 am Nick Freeman

    It was not so interesting as I thought. A little predictve and not enugh complicated.

  13. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 15, 2011 @ 12:06 pm Angie

    This movie was fanstic…BUT…I was very disappointed in Rachel’s performance. It wasn’t awful, but her character had so much potential that she didn’t dive into. For a character with that much mystery and depth, I think they should have chosen a more experienced actress instead of casting for sex appeal.

    Angie the Reviewer

  14. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 23, 2011 @ 1:28 pm orkut

    the movie was great! not to mention who really need it for my school newspaper. but I love how the characters play their part .. and oh! the chemistry between Sherlock and Watson .. seems that there is more to it LOL! is really fun to watch .. although I had a hard time understanding the accent .. I’m not an English people see you.

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