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Sherlock Holmes: Movie Review

By tvnz.co.nz's Darren Bevan

Published: 1:48PM Tuesday December 22, 2009

Sherlock Holmes

Rating: 6/10

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan

Director: Guy Ritchie

Ah, the quintessential hero could really only be played by the quintessential comeback kid.

So it is with this new take on Sherlock Holmes which sees Robert Downey Jr taking on the mantle of the detective.

Upon capturing evil Lord Blackwood (played with the usual flair by Mark Strong), Holmes (Downey Jr) is taunted by his promises that it's not over.

Things get even more surreal when Blackwood apparently rises from the dead and begins to terrorise London.

And despite this being Holmes and Watson's last case together (Watson's off to be married), the pair soon find themselves pulled back into the English criminal underworld as Blackwood's true machinations begin to unfurl.

As if that wasn't bad enough for Holmes, his one true love, the untrustworthy Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) is back on the scene - and it appears she's got plenty of secrets to keep Holmes intrigued.

Sherlock Holmes is a good reintroduction into the characters - but I have to admit, I felt much of the muddled plot was there simply to serve as exposition ready for the sequel (once you've seen it you'll understand why - and there's no spoilers here).

That said, there's much to admire about this latest rendition of Holmes - Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law have an excellent partnership as Holmes and Watson respectively; the pair are like brothers and Holmes can't resist pulling Watson back in the more he tries to get out of the crimesolving game.

Downey Jr makes a great Holmes - and director Ritchie plays his Holmes as a bored genius; Sherlock's feckless and restless when he doesn't have a case to solve - and he's never happier than when he has a riddle to deal with. Once again, Downey Jr proves the screen presence - although it's mainly thanks to his foil of a human Jude Law that the partnership works so well. The pair's bickering and squabbling clearly hides a deep love - and Holmes is jealous that he's about to lose his long time companion to a woman. It's these kind of character tics which really make Holmes quirky and reinvents him for the 21st century.

Mark Strong is as good as ever in the character role of Lord Blackwood - his taunting and teasing of Holmes clearly does a lot to show once again that Strong is an incredibly menacing and versatile actor onscreen.

Guy Ritchie's also brought that inevitable sense of Lock Stock cinematic style to ancient London - I had to admire the way he used his traditional slow mo shots to show how Holmes deals quickly with a problem in his head before physically dealing with it. In one fight scene, Holmes works out mentally how he will incapacitate his opponent through a series of slow mo cut shots - then seconds later, we see the physical action. It's a great way to demonstrate how Holmes' intellect and quick thinking works.

If there's to be a criticism of Sherlock Holmes (other than the film feeling like it's getting us ready for Sherlock 2) then it's that thanks to a slightly muddled plot, it never quite crackles and fizzes as well as it should - witty dialogue, quick repartie and some good (at times comedy) action pieces (including a very novel set piece on a dry docked boat) work well but the story drags it down slightly.

Holmes is clearly where the heart is, and Downey Jr's already said he will play the role again - so it's clear that the game is indeed afoot.

WATCH THE SHERLOCK HOLMES TRAILER HERE!

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