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The Essential Guide to Bristol
28 December 2009
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Sherlock Holmes (12A)

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/12/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 128 mins

Enjoyable, pacily directed action / adventure romp with an engaging mystery, decent action sequences and terrific central performances from Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law.

What's it all about?
Directed by Guy Ritchie, Sherlock Holmes is a reboot of the Sherlock Holmes franchise, starring Robert Downey Jr. as The World's Greatest Detective and Jude Law as his trusted ally, Dr Watson. The film begins with a frantic chase sequence through 1890s London, as Holmes and Watson arrive just in time to prevent the sinister Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) from committing a brutal ritualistic murder but things take a much darker turn when the dastardly villain is executed and appears to rise from the dead shortly afterwards.

Despite his intention to dissolve their partnership in order to marry his fiancee (Kelly Reilly), Watson reluctantly joins Holmes as they pursue a series of clues that take them through London's docklands all the way to the Houses of Parliament as they uncover a plot to take over the country. Meanwhile, Holmes faces problems of a different sort when he runs into the beautiful Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), a mysterious woman from his past.

The Good
With all the news about reshoots and recutting, you could be forgiven for expecting a total disaster. Thankfully, however, that's not the case, as the film is surprisingly good fun and delivers pretty much what the trailer promises, thanks to some decent action sequences (Downey Jr.'s Holmes is a skilled martial artist and likes to indulge in bare-knuckle boxing fights), pacey direction and an intriguing central mystery.

Downey Jr. is perfectly cast as Holmes, delivering a quirkily engaging performance and adding several delightful touches throughout, such as a high-pitched squeal when an assailant gets the better of him. In addition, the always excellent Strong is on top form as Blackwood, whilst Law gives his best performance since A.I., generating a sparky and amusingly homoerotic chemistry with Downey Jr. that works well (their frequent spats are a definite highlight).

The Bad
That said, McAdams, Reilly and Eddie Marsan (as Inspector Lestrade) are all horribly underused and there isn't quite as much in the way of enjoyable sleuthing as there ought to be. Also, Ritchie can't resist the occasional embarrassing sop to his Cockney geezer fanbase, such as when Watson yells “Nut him!” during a punch-up.

Worth seeing?
Sherlock Holmes is a surprisingly enjoyable action / adventure romp that deserves the sequel it's obviously hoping for. Recommended.

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Sherlock Holmes (12A)
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