Guy Ritchie is at it again with his spectacular reimagination of the great detective. Robert Downey returns as the most outrageous version of Sherlock Holmes we’ve ever seen and Jude Law is impeccable as the loyal Dr Watson, who is again thrust into an adventure quite against his will.
There’ll be no spoilers in this review — that is to say, there’ll be no information that will spoil the movie experience but some tidbits of information about the plot, so if you’re puritanical about it, don’t read further!
Before considering the story, there’s one more casting decision that deserves praise: Stephen Fry is absolutely perfect as spymaster Mycroft, Holmes’ brother. Having watched the film with friends who were unfamiliar with the Holmes genre, his role may have struck moviegoers as odd at times, though. The occasional references to Holmes trivia (Mycroft’s peculiarities, The Diogenes Club) may have been unnecessary in this regard.
To return to the plot, it’s reminiscent of the film adaption of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen only far better executed. Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris is outstanding) plots to turn the nations of Europe against each other by instigating a war between France and Germany.
The action takes us from London to Paris via the industrial town of Heilbronn in Germany to Switzerland, where Europe’s leaders have gathered for a peace conference. The mere sight of the location of the conference doesn’t bode well for Holmes fans. All the locations are gorgeous, though, with just a tad of anachronism here and there.
That’s true for the entire film. The steampunk elements are carefully inserted to enhance the drama and serve as eye candy, not plot devices. The action is fast-paced, but the movie is intelligent and incredibly entertaining.