Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Mundane Movie
If you are looking for a true, faithful and accurate adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brilliant source material then Guy Ritchie’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ is not for you. With Robert Downey Jr as the protagonist, the once respected detective is now a crazed madman crossed with some kind of wacky action hero. It is hard to tell what kind of character Holmes is in this oscillating confusion of film and I’m not too sure the director knows either.
Throughout, the film fluctuates back and forth between action, comedy, mystery and crime. These tones aren’t balanced well at all and are instead clumsily juggled by a blindfolded dimbat of a director. Speaking of clumsiness the main character is constantly falling over and dropping things as if he is Mr Bump from the Mr Men. This cartoonish and silly depiction of Sherlock Holmes strips the character of all reputability. Then at other points in the narrative the same detective is a strong and brave action hero who uses methodical scientific processes to fight street thugs. Holmes spends more time using his intelligence and deductive ability to beat up criminals instead of actually solving crimes like he’s supposed to.
The action scenes are another weak component as they are mostly a mess of CGI explosions, which made me feel like I was watching a trashy Michael Bay blockbuster instead of a mystery thriller. These special effect shenanigans don’t even add any high stakes as the protagonists easily walk them off as if they were simply a mere inconvenience. This reoccurring trope of ‘plot armour’ turns the once relatable characters into invincible superheroes who the audience cant connect with or relate to. The removal of high stakes cancels out any tension or fear, which are fundamental emotions in crime cinema.
The bipolarity of the film and its characters fails to allow for any emotional connection to be made with it, as there is nothing whole to connect with. Both of the protagonists who we are supposed to root for are dislikeable. Holmes is a lunatic who carries no charisma and is mainly just an arrogant idiotic douchebag. Nobody seems to like him not even his only friend Dr Watson. Played by Jude Law, Watson is to put it simply, very boring. He serves one purpose that is to complain and look annoyed. To be honest I don’t blame him as if I was an acquaintance of Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes let alone share an apartment with him I would find it unbearable. Instead of professional partners Sherlock and Watson are instead more like squabbling siblings with no sense of brotherhood, chemistry or comradery.
The antagonist of the film is another mundane element that adds nothing of interest at all. Blackwood as played by Mark Strong is nothing but a generic one-sided villain who is evil just for the sake of it. He doesn’t seem to have any real motivation or reason for his wickedness except from that the script wills it so. Strong attempts to present him as terrifying vampire like adversary but instead comes off as frivolous. Blackwood’s plan is a grand convoluted scheme, which involves black magic and taking over the world (muhahahahaha).
Yeah I know, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds.
I can’t help but wonder what happened to the small, niche and actually interesting schemes of Holmes’s opponents that made Doyle’s stories so fascinating.
Another uninteresting component is the set and mainly the colour pallet used. The mess of dark grey ashy buildings in nearly every shot may convey Victorian London effectively but feels lifeless and uninspiring as nothing new or exciting is bought to the table. The film attempts to distract the audience from this with very weak attempts at ‘comedy’. Every single ‘joke’ falls completely flat and I genuinely can’t remember a single time I laughed during my viewing experience. I couldn’t even chuckle at how bad the comedy is.
The only laughable thing about the film is the film itself.
The one part of this film that evokes actual positive emotion is the fantastic score by Hans Zimmer. Hans perfectly captures the essence of 19thcentury industrial London with the strings and percussion giving an eerie, dark but powerful feel to this dim, drag of a movie.
Every positive part of Sherlock Holmes (and there’s not a lot of them) is completely outshone by the BBC series ‘Sherlock’. Comparing the two live action adaptations really highlights everything wrong about Ritchie’s attempt at bringing Doyle’s iconic character to the silver screen. The series has the perfect balance of action, comedy, mystery, crime and enjoyable but accurate characters all whilst taking place in the modern world. The 2009 Sherlock Holmes lacks all of this and is probably why I found myself falling asleep before I even reached the 3rdact (I’m not even joking).
If you really want to watch a satisfying and well-made version of Doyle’s stories then please stay far far far away from Guy Ritchie’s insulting mess of a movie also known as ‘Sherlock Holmes’.