Sherlock Holmes Film Review - Is New Better?

Sherlock Holmes -Sherlock and Watson inch their way into the cavern

Presented by Warner Brothers, Village Roadshow Pictures, and Silver Pictures, Sherlock Holmes has a new look and a new attitude.  Those who are used to the Meerschaum pipe and deer stalker hat had better get used to a Sherlock Holmes who uses his fists as well as his brain.

Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock Homes (Robert Downey Jr) at home

Director Guy Ritchie, with a script by Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, and Simon Kinberg based on a story by Lionel Wigram and Michael Johnson bring us back in London of the 1800’s.  Sherlock ( Robert Downey, Jr) has once again teamed up with his buddy, Dr. John Watson ( Jude Law) to solve crimes as a consulting detective.  Currently there have been strange disappearances and Sherlock believes it to be  ritualistic killings.

Sherlock Holmes - Dr. Watson (Jude Law)

Along with Watson, he traces the ceremony to the caverns beneath St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Sneaking in, they arrive just in time to free the young lady who has been bound to the sacrificial block.  The hooded figure conducting the service turns out to be none other than Lord Blackwood ( Mark Strong.)  They are helped by Scotland’s Yard Inspector Lestrade ( Eddie Marsan.)

Sherlock Holmes: Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) does away with a rival

Blackwood vows he will come back after death to haunt Sherlock, but of course, Sherlock doesn’t believe him.  And yet just days later after he has been hung and Dr. Watson has declared him dead, he is seen walking among the graveyard. 

Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock and Watson facing their destruction

Naturally, Sherlock is brought in to investigate. 

Sherlock Holmes - Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams

Into the investigation comes Irene Adler ( Rachel McAdams), Sherlock’s former lover, who works at the edge of the law.  She has been hired by a stranger seeking the secret of Blackwood and is supposed to use her charms to get the information from Sherlock.  Unfortunately, she falls in love with him again and is compromised.  

Dr. Watson, while wanting to help his buddy, also wants to be with his new fiancé, Mary, whom Sherlock has ably insulted.  One would almost guess that Sherlock doesn’t want to lose his best friend to a woman. 

Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Watson and his Mary (Kelly Reilly)

Mysterious deaths accrue as Sherlock continues his investigation, breaking into strange rooms and getting trapped in the path of a ship being launched out to sea.  He deduces with his marvelous wit that Lord Coward ( Hans Matheson), the head of the St. James Society – a secret white magic society,  is really the father of Blackwood and that Blackwood has used his knowledge for the dark arts.  Blackwood’s goal, it seems, is to overrun England and then take over the former colonies again and hence control the world even more than the kingdom once had.  

Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock and Irene - the secret formula

With Coward dead, the society agrees with Sir Thomas Rotheram ( James Fox) that Blackwood is the one to follow.  Being the head of the police, as well, Rotheram has the power to order Sherlock’s arrest.  So along with Watson and Adler, Sherlock is on the run.   One man, Ambassador Standish ( William Hope) stands up to Blackwood and is fried to a crisp.  

Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock picks a lock

Using the obscure clues that only someone as brilliant as Sherlock could have figured out,  he realizes that Blackwood’s next attempt is to destroy the Parliament and kill all the lords there who do not agree with him.  

In a battle to the end, Sherlock, Adler and Watson defeat the plan and deal with Blackwood.  

It’s well discussed in the literature that Sherlock was a cocaine addict but here the new Sherlock is an alcoholic and scruffy beard recluse, depressed inventor.  Only once does he pick up the famous pipe and it wasn’t even a Meerschaum.

While most movies are predictable to a certain degree, especially if you’re a writer or an avid movie goer, but this was more so.  Because Holmes's logic is private and labyrinthine, the film can't build on the clues he finds because they're all, by virtue of being discovered by him, obscure markers on a convoluted path. So momentum and suspense are an issue. You're just waiting for the inevitable crime-solving moment.  Explanations do come at the end, but they are so piled up that few people would come up with them on their own.

The acting is great on the parts of both Law and Downey – so great that in fact there is little distinction between the two. Both are charming, knowledgeable and able to use their fists.  (In fact, in one scene that probably wasn’t necessary, Sherlock shows his fighting prowess in the boxing ring.)  Either of them could have played either part with the switch of a pipe.  I sorely missed the “Elementary, my dear Watson.”

Director of Photography is Phillppe Rousselot, production design by Sarah Greenwood, and editing was done by James Herbert.  The composer was Hans Zimmer.  

The film was executive produced by Michael Tadross, Bruce Berman and co-produced by Steve Clark.  Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey, and Dan Lin produced the film. 

The film has been rated pG-13 for violence and suggestive material.   You'll either love the film or you'll hate it but for more information go to

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