Scoundrels concoct evil,
and their speech is like a scorching fire.
A perverse person spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.
The violent entice their neighbors,
and lead them in a way that is not good.
Director Guy Richie’s take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s super rational detective is a far cry from what some of us remember from all those films that Basil Rathbone starred in O so many years ago. Sherlock Holmes, as played by Robert Downey Jr, is now an action hero who bares his torso to indulge in rough and tumble boxing matches, and he is as sloppy as Oscar in the Odd Couple. Indeed, paired with Jude Law as Dr. Watson, this film becomes a Victorian version of that film and TV series. Only now Watson has more of a personal life, he bringing his newfound love to meet his best friend. The dinner does not go well, with the sleuth deducing very quickly her not so respectable past of thievery, whereupon the angry woman throws her glass of water into his face and stalks out.
The film also quickly sidles into the horror cult genre, with Holmes breaking up a human sacrifice presided over by Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who is caught, tried, executed, and then emerges again in a bizarre attempt to head a new cult and take over Great Britain—and thus the world. A gritty Victorian London is created via special effects, culminating in a spectacular, if unbelievable fight between hero and villain high over the Thames on the unfinished Tower Bridge. Action hero fans will love this re-incarnations of the venerable detective (I read somewhere that 70 actors have played the master detective in some 200 films!), but I would just as soon go back to the older versions. These were probably shot on a budget equal to the catering bill of Guy Richie’s, but delivering, dollar for dollar, far more satisfaction.