By Sean Harris ’11
Robert Downey Jr. is on fire right now.
He was always a critically acclaimed actor but after his starring role in “Iron Man,” he has become an A-list star.
His latest role places him in the shoes of Detective Sherlock Holmes, a name that is well known in pop and literary culture.
However, this latest take on the trench coat wearing hero is quite different from how he is normally portrayed. But is that a good thing?
The film begins with Holmes and his faithful accomplice, Dr. John Watson (Jude Law), stopping an attempted sacrifice headed by Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), a supposed master of the dark arts.
Blackwood is sentenced to death but he promises Holmes that he will return from beyond the grave. Once Blackwood reportedly rises from the grave it is up to Holmes and Watson to solve the case.
There are two side plots here, one involving the departure of Watson as he prepares to leave to start his own business and marry his fiancée Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly).
The other involves Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), a woman Holmes is attracted to and suspicious of (she is the only person that has outsmarted Holmes).
Irene is working for a shady and powerful player in the Holmes saga which sets the foundation for a sequel.
The thing that works about “Sherlock Holmes” is the performances given by Downey and Law. They are both very different from how mainstream audiences view them, each with clear flaws in their characters.
Holmes is not the man in charge of every situation but a ticking time bomb who might be too smart for his own good. Watson is not just a goofy sidekick but a tough and determined army man that has some flaws of his own.
All these differences add up to fresh and interesting characters that provide a new twist on how audiences will view these iconic figures.
Of course these differences would not add up to much if Downey and Law were not able to sell these characters, and sell them they certainly do.
Both actors work fantastically, and their chemistry together certainly gives off the impression of two good buddies who have worked together for a long time.
Strong is okay as the villain, although he never truly rises to the level of threatening and at times he resembles a cartoon character, something that is jarring when he is among such realistic people as Holmes and Watson.
McAdams seems out of place; she is added to the movie to give Holmes a love interest and provide clues for a sequel with no other purpose.
Director Guy Ritchie clearly had a vision for this movie; the film feels very slick and stylized to a point where it is very enjoyable to watch.
It is a shame that some of the pieces did not quite fit or even that nothing really stands out in the movie, but all in all “Sherlock Holmes” is a good piece of entertainment.
3 out of 5 horseshoes.