Sherlock Holmes: When you remove all of the agenda, whatever remains must be a great movie.

Movie:Sherlock Holmes
Company:Warner Brothers
Director:Guy Ritchie
Starring:Robert Downey Jr.
Jude Law
Rachel McAdams
Mark Strong
Eddie Marsan

        I have never read a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes mystery. However, like most Americans, I am familiar with the character of Holmes. I am even familiar with some of the trivia surrounding the character, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle aimed to be a writer of “serious literature” and begrudged the success of and demand for the cash-cow pulp of his Holmes' mysteries. I know that Doyle tried to kill Holmes off just to be rid of him. However, his readers protested and demanded Holmes' return. I also know that Doyle, in an attempt to lose readership and popularity, made Holmes progressively more and more of a degenerate, even turning him into a casual opium user and a cocaine addict. Again, unfortunately, these failings just added to Holmes' popularity. And while today's Holmes purist will undoubtedly object to the big budget Hollywood treatment of Doyle's stories, Guy Ritchie's “Sherlock Holmes” struck me as a very faithful modern retelling.

        Robert Downey Jr. plays a Sherlock Holmes who is dirty, obsessed, self-destructive, out of touch, rude, and brilliant. Jude Law plays a Dr. John Watson who is grounded, loyal, and about to settle down, but who can't let go of life on the edge provided by Holmes and the seamy underside of Victorian England just yet. Rachel McAdams plays Miss Irene Adler, Holmes' compromised femme fatale and knowing Achilles heel. Mark Strong plays Lord Blackwood, a power mad politician and mystic, newly risen from the dead, and bent on a coup d'etat plan worthy of Guy Fawkes. All of these characters play against a backdrop of Victorian England at its absolute filthiest; mud in the streets, soot on the buildings, dirty water in the Thames. Ritchie's “Sherlock Holmes” adds a layer of grit, sweat, and grime to replace the refined image of Holmes with a smoking jacket, pipe, and brandy.

        Part big budget Hollywood Action/Adventure, part Victorian Period Piece, part Buddy Movie, there is one thing which “Sherlock Holmes” is not, a screed. The absence of any “message” beyond the story stood out to me as more memorable than even the fantastic interplay between Downey and Law as Holmes and Watson. While some might argue that the pervasive atmosphere of decay and filth portrayed in “Sherlock Holmes” might be a negative statement on industrialization, I would argue back that “The Good Old Days” had manure in the streets.

        “Sherlock Holmes” is a holiday release. So for the holidays, give yourself a present: forget “Avatar” and go see “Sherlock Holmes”, twice. That's what I'll be doing.

Hollywood, STFU Rating: 0 Hammer and Sickles