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Wick's Review

Created Jan 04, 2010 08:37PM PST • Edited Jan 25, 2020 10:01PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    Rock ‘em, sock ’em Holmes: Brilliant star Robert Downey Jr. turns the mythical detective into an action hero of the first order in Guy Ritchie’s rousing movie. Though a good show, its Jonesian hyper-reality might not be to every taste, notwithstanding today’s action movie fan expecting this sort of surrealism.1

    An origin story, it presents Holmes and Jude Law’s Dr. Watson as admirably un-dandified brothers-in-arms, their jocular interplay providing most of the movie’s charm. Sadly, their lackluster female counterparts are charm deficits. Fortunately their first rate opponent – Mark Strong’s villainous Lord Blackwood – fills the bill with more than a modicum of evil charm.

    1 How surreal? 2.1x Normal Reality based on 2.5x CircoReality • 2.1x BioReality • 1.6x PhysioReality

  3. Very Good 3.5

    Arrogant. Rakish. Brilliant.1 Hmm, which moviestar best fits those clues? Ah yes, Robert Downey Jr., muscled up and laying it down. He even pulls off the English accent, at least to this reviewer’s American ear. Holmes now joins Iron Man to give Downey two major franchise series, placing him on the very short AAA List of megastars. Rare air up there.

    Jude Law – a major moviestar himself – plays Dr. Watson as a man’s man of the classic British persuasion: walking stick wielding and stiff legged when not in action. Jolly good show.

    Their female counterparts, however, are lackluster. Rachel McAdams, in particular, generates no particular charm or menace, notwithstanding ample opportunity to do both. Kelly Reilly acquits herself better as Watson’s betrothed. Good thing, since she’s likely a staple of the sequels.

    Mark Strong, OTOH, makes a terrific villain, as essential to the success of a good-vs-evil movie as the hero himself. What a terrific actor Strong is: Jordanian intelligence officer in Body of Lies or British patrician opposite Downey, he makes any nationality malevolent. His evil Lord Blackwood should pull double duty in a Harry Potter movie.

    Speaking of transnational actors, using Americans as Brits is not a great decision, no matter how stellar Downey is. The producers should have at least used a hot British actress instead of Rachel McAdams as his romantic foil. What, Keira Knightly was busy?

    1 Brilliant in both the British and American senses.

  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5

    Downey was Really Great, Law merely Great.

  5. Female Stars OK 2.5

    McAdams was barely OK, Kelly Reilly was Good.

  6. Female Costars OK 2.5
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0

    Mark Strong was Really Great, the others merely Good

  8. Great 4.0

    The film admirably sweeps aside dandified characterizations, harking back to Conan Doyle’s bare knuckled fighter. Casino Royale applied the same revisionist cleansing to a subsequent British hero – Bond, James Bond, also a bare knuckled fighter – with similar bracing results.

  9. Direction Great 4.0

    Guy Ritchie – the British Tarantino – presents tough London like few others. Here he recreates the London of 120 years ago as well as it was conjured in period classics like Sweeney Todd and Mary Poppins.

    As in Snatch and his other movies, Ritchie crafts very funny action scenes, e.g., Holmes engineering a way to shoot his opponent across the room, taking out Watson’s opponent in the process. Jude Law’s double-take is priceless.

    Holmes visualizes his winning fight moves before executing them, a deft directorial technique that adds color and context to the fight scenes while fitting in with Holmes’ cerebral nature. They also double the violence quotient.

  10. Play Very Good 3.5
  11. Music Great 4.0
  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5

    Vivid recreation of Victorian London at its height. The Tower Bridge scenes with St Paul’s in the background are classic.

    • VR medallions for Victoria Regina. Victoria the Queen.
    • ER for Elizabeth Regina in the London of the past half century.
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.8

    Visceral hand-to-hand violence comes early and often. While occasionally comic, it’s not comik violence: men die at the hands of others. Consider this before sharing the movie with kids.

    At least he left out the opium. Guess that’ll have to wait for the sequel.

  15. Sex Innocent 1.4
  16. Violence Fierce 2.5
  17. Rudeness Polite 1.5
  18. Surreal 2.1

    What does it take to place Conan Doyle’s Victorian detective in IndyJonesian hyper-reality? 45 stuntmen, 25 FX players, and several other crafts, each numbering at least a couple dozen.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.5
  20. Biological Surreal 2.1
  21. Physical Glib 1.6


Subscribe to Sherlock Holmes 8 replies, 2 voices
May 14, 2010 11:44PM

Regarding BrianSez’s Review
Solid review, Holmes.

Jan 15, 2010 7:04AM

Haha I said just kidding : )

Jan 14, 2010 11:51PM

Yep, I call ’em as I see ’em, and try not to give nihilism extra credit just because it seems so heavy.