FROM ONE SHERLOCK TO ANOTHER
(Forgive me as I’m playing catch up with reviews.) Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law are back in another Guy Ritchie movie featuring one of the world’s best literary detectives. Truth be told, I enjoyed the first movie. It was flashy, quickly paced and visually showed how Sherlock deduces things. The story itself was as predicted: just good enough to entertain.
However, I felt that this movie stepped up in the storytelling arena. Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) is investigating a series of unrelated crimes around Europe, believing they’re all connected to Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). Meanwhile, Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is about to get married to Mary (Kelly Reilly) but Holmes’ investigation gets in the way of their wedding festivities.
Holmes saves a gypsy woman named Sim from one of Moriarty’s men and learns that she was targeted due to her brother’s connection to Moriarty. Putting together the clues, Holmes deduces that Moriarty is acquiring companies with the aim of starting a global war.
When I first heard that Jared Harris was casted as Moriarty, I thought it was an excellent casting choice. He plays excellent villains. Not just any villain but they are always sadistic, cold, calculating with an air of arrogance. Hmm, maybe that describes a lot of villains but Moriarty, in my mind, never dirtied his hands. He simply uses logic and a conspiracy of men to usurp his opponents. Therefore, no one else can match wits with him besides Sherlock.
I like Robert Downey, Jr. but he doesn’t really change too much from role to role. He’s always got that playful, sarcastic vibe about him. A fast-talking, garrulous tramp. The way Downey plays Sherlock Holmes is different from how I have envisioned the character in the books but I’m not opposed to it. Downey brings his own kind of charm and flair to the role. Similarly, I like Jude Law’s gruffness to Watson. Watson has often been played as the weak, mild-mannered sidekick but here, Law plays him with a more active role. It fits with Guy Ritchie style of directing.
And they certainly use the action sequences well here. There is a scene in the movie trailer where Holmes and Watson are running through a forest in slow motion. Without context, it didn’t really impress me but after having seen it in the theaters, it’s simply beautiful. It’s a war scene that combines the goriness of war and we’re left holding our breaths waiting to see if our two heroes will survive it but it’s all in this painstakingly slow motion shot with beautifully clear cinematography. Seeing the scene in entirety really made me appreciate what Guy Ritchie does. Money has done great things for him since Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
They also got different writers this time and I think that was for the better. Not that the story in the first movie was terrible but the story here is intricate, layered and provides lots of twists. From the beginning to the end, I didn’t know where this movie was trying to lead me but once I saw the whole picture I was pretty satisfied. It’s like seeing one of those magic eye posters. At first, you are so focused on the miniscule details that your brain can’t make sense of the image until you pull back and see the whole thing at once. Combined that with Downey, Law and Stephen Fry’s (plays Mycroft Holmes) humor, you’ve got a really enjoyable film.