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Published on December 25th, 2009 | by simeon

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Sherlock Holmes

The stories of master detective Sherlock Holmes have delighted readers, listeners, and viewers for well over a century. The tales have grown from the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to include radio, television, and film. Director Guy Ritchie casts Robert Downey Jr. as a slightly dysfunctional but brilliant Holmes who, along with his partner Dr. Watson (Jude Law), have just stopped a bizarre ceremony and ended a murder spree in the process.

The people of London are grateful to be free of the terror induced by Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), but solving the mystery leaves Holmes somewhat despondent and uninterested in solving other mysteries. Most likely because Watson is moving out of their home and office to complete his pending marriage plans. The lack of complexity in the cases Holmes is requested to take leaves him abundant time to sulk in his study and scare the housing staff with his bizarre behavior and inventions.

The monotony of Holmes’s life is abruptly ended when Blackwood summons him shortly before his scheduled execution for his crimes. Blackwood indicates that a dark plot is in the works and though his claims are dismissed by the authorities as the desperate ravings of a madman about to be executed, Holmes begins to think there is more to the case than meets the eye. Things take a bizarre turn when Blackwood appears to rise from the dead and starts a new wave of terror over the city. Pressed into action, Holmes and Watson uncover a series of clues that reveal a diabolic plot that will alter the balance of power in England.

In a race against time, Holmes and Watson must also deal with their unresolved issues regarding Watson’s pending marriage as well as a mysterious, seductive woman from Holmes’s past (Rachel Mc Adams). What follows is a winning combination of comedy, action, mystery, and a touch of romance Ritchie knows he has a strong cast and gives Downey, Law, and Mc Adams ample room to explore their characters yet keeps them within the story.

The plot of the film may be the weakest point and at times its uncertain if it is an action buddy film or a caper picture. It attempts to blend the two but often comes up short, lacking enough action for my taste. The plot may also be confusing to some as it lacks a cohesive structure and seems to be a free roaming entity that exists within a general framework.

Downey and Law work well with one another and Downey gives a strong, clever performance in a role that requires both physical and cerebral dexterity. Mc Adams is good as the love interest in the film but would have benefited from more time to better expand her character which I hope will happen in future films.

While the film may not come across as a traditional American studio film, there is a lot to like about this new Holmes and the new franchise it launches for fans old and new.

4/5

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