2009 Certificate: 12

Synopsis

Robert Downey Jr banishes the traditional deerstalker and tweed cape to bring us a super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes just at home in a bare-knuckle bout as he is peering down a microscope. Jude Law is the straitlaced Dr Watson trying to rein him in while Mark Strong oozes evil as his diabolic foe Lord Blackwood. Director Guy Ritchie conjures up his most enjoyable caper yet. Should you see it? The answer's elementary, dear viewer.

Director

  • Guy Ritchie

Cast

  • Robert Downey Jr

  • Jude Law

  • Mark Strong

  • Rachel McAdams

  • Kelly Reilly

Review

The only thing the refined, pipe-smoking Victorian gentleman detective and Guy Ritchie's typical pistol-packing, potty-mouthed mockneys have in common is that they both live in the Smoke.

However, while Sherlock domiciles himself at 221B Baker Street in London's classy West End, Guy's geezers inhabit the cess pit that is Londinium's East End.

The two worlds come crashing together in Ritchie's rather enjoyable noughties makeover for the super-sleuth previously best known for his portrayal by the aristocratic Basil Rathbone.

A game Robert Downey Jr plays the ace detective as a dishevelled social misfit happy blasting shotguns at the walls of his digs and meticulously plotting fisticuffs strategy ahead of a triumphant bout.

However, when it comes to solving crime conundrums his abyss-straddling leaps of logic put him up there with Adam West's Batman in the camp TV series.

In this original story Holmes faces his arch nemesis Lord Blackwood (Strong), a warped blue blood who manages to rise from the grave after Holmes has collared him for the sacrificial murder of young fillies.

The erratic trail takes Shirl and his sober sidekick Watson (Jude Law, adequate) through impressively realised Victorian London, taking in a marvellously-stage ruck in a boatyard and gore blimey climax on the scaffolding of the half-built Tower Bridge.

At two-hours plus, it goes on a bit but Ritchie appears in his element working from someone else's script and Downey Jr brings real verve to a role previously known for its starch and conformity.

The women - Rachel McAdams' top-end tea leaf Irene and Kelly Reilly's fiance for Watson - are little more than window dressing but Strong's power-crazy anarchist casts a gripping spell.

It's worth a watch. Case closed.

Tim Evans