Sherlock Holmes Review: We Smell Excellence Afoot
In the PR-soaked world of the film critic, the phrase ‘return to form’ often translates as: “I have an exclusive interview with the director”.
But there are some very rare occasions in which such an elementary sound-byte fits like a tailor-made deerstalker.
After an explosive debut, Guy Ritchie’s work had sagged slightly in recent years but this movie suggests that he has rediscovered that rich vein of form that he tapped pre-Madonna.
Sherlock Holmes is quick-witted, visually spectacular, literally punchy, slicker than a torpedoed Oil Liner – and (unfortunately) we still don’t have a one-on-one op with the remasculated film-maker.
The real star of the show is Robert Downey Jr though. His performance as the iconic detective is irresistible and on the subject of prima donnas, Jude Law is also memorable as his exasperated sidekick Dr Watson.
We arrive in 1890s London to find a city in the fearful grip of the mysterious Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) who kills a couple of women before being caught by Holmes in an opening flurry of fist-whirling.
He is summarily tries and hanged for his crimes, but unfortunately for the metropolitan constabulary the villain rises from the dead and sets off to achieve his ‘higher goal’ of making life even more unbearable for our Victorian friends – even Oliver Twist’s workhouse mates.
Thus Sherlock Holmes (who up until this point has been moping around Baker Street complaining of a lack of worthwhile mystery) springs into action and drags his companion (who is trying to get married and leave his crime-busting days behind him) along for the ride.
Along the way we glimpse our nemesis-in-waiting Dr Moriaty and an alluring Irene Adler who despite being a double-agent, is still enraptured by our hero.
The result is nothing less than a resounding success and Ritchie has captured an energetic Holmes complete with all the rich nuances and vices of Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic character.