There are a lot of great reasons to go to the movies. You might want to see your favorite star deliver an incredible performance. There might be a mystery out there that intrigues you. A smoldering romance is always a draw. Then there’s the flat-out roller coaster ride. The good news is Sherlock Holmes is all of the above. It is a brilliantly acted, smart adventure film, and my favorite movie of the year (so far). Be warned, however: this is not your father’s Sherlock Holmes.
The film begins in 19th century London as Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Watson (Jude Law) capture Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) just as he is about to murder another young victim. Blackwood, an enthusiast of the dark arts, informs Holmes that even his execution will not stop him. Holmes laughs off the threat with characteristic bravado until Lord Blackwood is spotted post-execution continuing to pursue his deadly plans. Meanwhile, Holmes’ nemesis and love interest, Irene (Rachel McAdams), has returned in the employ of the mysterious Dr. Moriarty.
Downey has really reinvented Holmes. While he continues to be the keen genius with a substance abuse problem, he is not channeling Basil Rathbone. This Holmes is a codependent—there were early rumblings that Holmes and Watson were in a sexual relationship, but Holmes’ neediness is far more immature—and mercurial. When he’s not working on a case he is pouting in his room or engaging in bare-knuckle boxing matches. No doubt Downey’s own struggles have informed his character choices. The plot is intelligent and the acting is brilliant. I didn’t want it to end. It's a 9.