I had high hopes for Guy Ritchie’s (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch) version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. I have always been a fan of Ritchie’s visual style and when I heard that he was to be given a shot at a main stream film the size of Holmes I became even more excited. Even though Warner Bro’s is the studio promoting a free range artistic new view to film making, it seems that when it came to Ritchie’s style some restraints may have been applied.
Warner is the studio that brought us Batman Begins and Dark Knight and they have indie directors flocking to them with nothing but praise. In Holmes you do get what you would expect from Warner, but making Holmes into the true to text story that made Watchmen the film it was did not work as well when it came to Holmes. This time around we find Holmes at the end of a case and Watson starting to move on with his life. The one last thing they plan to do together is watch the villain from their last case hang. The only problem with that final task is that this supernatural villain knows ways to defy death and after his hanging in that old Christmas fashion he rises from the grave and there is only one man for the job, Sherlock Holmes.
One thing that this film has going for it is a stellar cast with Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Tropic Thunder) playing Holmes, how could you go wrong? Downey Jr. is great in this roll playing Holmes as a drunken Batman minus all those fun little toys. All the films Downey has added to his list of late just make me love him even more, he balances humor and drama perfectly the only problem with Holmes is Downey doesn’t have much to work with. Though this film is very dialog driven, I was surprised with the lack of character development that was there. The film dragged at 128 minutes and left me with the feeling that this was a sequel to an original story I had not seen.
From the start we are asked to understand the relationship between Holmes and Watson and when asked to long for the moment they truly get back together it’s the acting of Jude Law (Enemy at the Gates, Closer) that bring on these feelings rather than the story. Law plays Watson with just the right amount of charisma and humor to make you like the character. His back and forth with Downey is the only thing that saves this film from being a total flop. Even though I am a huge fan of dialog-driven films, it was a lack of that emotional connection that left me hoping for an explosion.
Even with a 2 hour run time, Holmes feels like something is missing and if you look closely at the trailer it seems that a lot is. Since the film felt like it could have used a bit more action I can only imagine that in those missing scenes is where the missing character bonds can be found. The one bond that seems to be missing most it that of Irene Adler played by Rachel McAdams (The Notebook), Irene is Holmes’ love interest but you never really see the spark between the two, some of the fault could lay with McAdams as she never really slipped into her character and the chemistry between the other characters was completely absent. McAdams’ character could have used more than a sentence of back story to help the viewer create a bond with Irene.
As I said before, I’m a fan of Guy Ritchie. His style is next to none and the main stay of all his films. Saying that, the only bit of Ritchie that can be found is in a few of the fight scenes but other than that we get nothing. This surprises me because of what I have seen from Warner’s in that past it seems they give their directors free range, but in this instance it looks as if they had a lot of involvement with Ritchie. Honestly the casting and a knowledge of Ritchie’s films would be the only tip the he even directed the movie. This leads me to think that the studio only added Ritchie to ease the minds of fan boys on the internet.
I can’t help but think that this film was sliced and diced and because the film dragged as it did I can understand why the studio went that way. If you look at the trailer you can see a lot if the scenes featuring Rachel McAdams from the trailer had been cut, I’m not sure if this was due to what McAdams brought to the role or that the film was dragging on. I can only hope that the director’s cut had more back story and character development because this dialog-driven mystery that is left with holes that not even the great mind of Sherlock Holmes could fill.
I give Sherlock Holmes 2.5 “the case of the missing scenes” out of 5.
by Ryan Davis