Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes is not really a movie so much as it is a collection of scenes haphazardly smushed together. Yet it’s incredibly enjoyable, so much so that it was more than two-thirds of the way through the film before I realized that I didn’t even remotely understand what was happening.
Holmes stars Robert Downey Jr. as the title character, who smirks his way through the film like a British-ized Iron Man in an even more preposterous outfit. Actual Brit Jude Law co-stars as Watson, Holmes’ partner in sleuthing and, for most of the film, in life. Watson’s plan to marry his fianceé, played by the not-famous-as-far-as-I-know Kelly Reilly, and move out of their shared Sherlock Home (sorry, couldn’t resist) provides a delightful subplot—the camaraderie and rapid-fire banter between the detective and the doctor borders on sexual tension.
Without consulting the Wikipedia summary, however, the best summary of the main plot I can muster together is this: the evil Lord Blackwood, having been hanged for a number of murders, apparently rises from the dead. He becomes the leader of an underground, Illuminati-like sect which may or may not have magical powers. Holmes attempts to stop him from bombing Parliament—I think—while flirting outrageously with his on-again off-again American lover, played by Rachel “I Wrote You Every Day For A Year!” McAdams, who may or may not be double-crossing him. Also, there are a number of slow-motion fight scenes involving an eight-foot-tall Russian guy with a Fred Durst beard (that’s a picture of Durst, not the Russian guy). Holmes’ fondness for alcohol is kept from the original stories, but his compulsive cocaine use (seriously) has been excised. Really, though, the plot makes absolutely no sense. It’s not helped by Downey’s mumbling British accent which, although it fits the character, makes it virtually impossible to understand anything he says in the first ten minutes of the movie.
The movie is beautiful, with picturesque swoops across 18th-century London, and the borderline-schizophrenic quick-cut editing works well for the action scenes, which provide the meat of the film. One sequence in which Holmes’ lover is threatened by a meat-slicing machine amongst a huge number of decaying pig carcasses is masterful and could stand on its own as postmodernist short.
So, should you see it? Definitely. Just don’t expect to have any idea what the hell is going on.