- RatedPG /GenreCrime, Mystery
Rating: 1 out of 5
On paper, Sherlock Holmes seemed to possess all the makings of a glorious cinematic romp.
First there was the titular character, a classic hero created by novelist Arthur Conan Doyle, crying out for a twenty-first century movie interpretation.
Then there was Robert Downey Jr., a megastar blessed with considerable acting chops, signing on to embody the modern Holmes.
Finally, there was English director Guy Ritchie, an extravagant filmmaker known for blending clever intrigue with pure visceral excitement.
As it turns out, the dish has failed to live up to its ingredients; Sherlock Holmes is a convoluted mess, an indigestible stew.
The film’s problems are innumerable and varied, but they begin with script and -- I strongly suspect -- egos.
No less than four people are credited with the story and screenplay; the director isn’t one of them, but the producer is. This is always a portentous sign, and here the results are disastrous.
Briefly, the plot dictates that Holmes (Downey Jr., speaking in a near-unintelligible accent) and his sidekick Watson (Law) must stop a politician Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong, in a hideous caricature) from taking over the world in a conspiracy of black magic.
How this hokey premise unfolds into 130 interminable minutes is too painful to delve into.
Suffice to say that with such a vapid blueprint, Ritchie directs with desperate exuberance, straining, as it were, to disguise the movie’s feeble foundations with hyperbolic gimmicks.
First, he re-imagines Doyle’s foggy 1880s London as a retro-futuristic metropolis; a city of dingy fight clubs and velvet drawing rooms, rendered in the bluish-muddy grain of his early work, the gangster farce, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998).
Next, he bombards the audience with a slew of slow-motion fight sequences, computer-generated explosions, and a cacophonous soundtrack of banjos and honky-tonk pianos.
Such flourishes are of little help in the face of an irredeemable storyline that is crammed with idiotic twists; no amount of technical virtuosity can save the film, and the tricks merely confirm the director as a parodist of his own style.
Having progressively regressed since the success of Lock, Stock…, Ritchie has hit a new nadir with Sherlock Holmes. Even by the mediocre standards of Hollywood, it already ranks as one of the worst pictures of 2009.
About Ken Kwek
Ken Kwek is a playwright and screenwriter. His film credits include The Ballad of Vicki and Jake (2005), The Blue Mansion (2009) and the forthcoming Kidnapper (2010).