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Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is still mostly recognizable in this film, even though Director Guy Ritchie tried to turn him into an action star.
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“Sherlock Holmes” (2009)

Directed by Guy Ritchie

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams

Rated PG-13 — Now Playing

Watching Sherlock Holmes is a bit like going to the circus: loud noises, moving objects and bright colors — but no substance. Although fairly entertaining, Holmes relies too heavily on Robert Downey Jr., who singlehandedly elevates the film above mediocrity as if he were LeBron and Holmes the 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers. Holmes follows the hero (Robert Downey Jr.) and his sarcastic sidekick Dr. Watson (Jude Law) as they tackle a conspiracy to bring down the British government.

It’s the classic Holmes formula: They find clues, solve the occasional puzzle, and generally act clever. We are also treated to a vaguely amusing love affair between Holmes and Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), an American con artist who plays a part in a larger conspiracy (frankly it was all too convoluted to follow). Holmes predictably solves the mystery and sets up a sequel. Very few salient moments occur in between, besides some pithy dialogue, a few obligatory plot twists and the occasional shot of Rachel McAdams in a corset.

To be honest, I wish that the film was more than just a vehicle for sarcastic remarks from Downey Jr. Holmes is a two hour demonstration of Robert Downey Jr.’s ability to be charming, with a few slapstick scenes thrown in for effect. Downey Jr.’s brilliant portrayal of Holmes as an addled crazed genius helps to keep Holmes from becoming a bad episode of CSI (and let’s be honest, every episode of CSI is bad), but no amount of clever words spoken in a British accent can save a fundamentally dull movie.

While several scenes detail Holmes’s complex deductive methods, just as many show him moping around his apartment or performing strange medical experiments on Watson’s pets. Interestingly, these sequences chronicling the duo’s troubled home life are actually among the best in the film, suggesting that Sherlock Holmes can essentially be boiled down to a two-man tag team version of Friends.

Sherlock Holmes suffers from the same curse of lameness that virtually all mystery and suspense movies fall prey to. More child-friendly than a horror movie and more dull than a traditional action film, Holmes lacks the presence of anything special other than Downey Jr.’s wide range of bizarre facial expressions.

The movie is one good dismemberment from a horror film, one good cruise missile from an action movie, and one good nude scene away from a romance movie, but the resulting sexual-encounter of genres simply isn’t compelling. Downey Jr. is so excellent that he makes the rest of the cast look like extras from an episode of Barney, and nothing else happens in the film that one couldn’t find in a YouTube montage of people getting hit in the face by flying objects.

While Sherlock Holmes is certainly fairly entertaining, its lack of real content makes it quite difficult for me to recommend seeing it. I cannot even recommend watching it as a date movie, because any approximately normal human leaves incapable of loving anyone but Robert Downey Jr. Seeing as how Avatar could be bathing your eyeballs in liquid happiness, don’t even bother with Holmes.